11:09am PT by Eriq Gardner
Adam Sandler Wins Dispute Against Nanny (Exclusive)
Adam Sandler and his HP Production company have gotten a California appeals court to affirm that his former nanny Deanne McDonald must repay $80,000 for breaching a confidential settlement agreement.
The actor hired the nanny in 2009, and when McDonald's employment ended, she raised employment claims. Those never surfaced publicly thanks to a deal worked out in 2010 that paid her $48,000. Her attorneys were handed an additional $32,000. As part of the settlement, McDonald agreed not to disclose anything about Sandler nor disparage him.
Last year, McDonald purported to terminate and rescind the settlement agreement and sue HP and Scott Sandler, Adam's brother who co-runs the company. So the Sandlers took her to private arbitration pursuant to a clause in the settlement agreement. The nanny accused Sandler of criminal activity and slavery, and she was warned by Sandler's attorneys about filing a lawsuit.
A JAMS arbitrator then ruled that McDonald had breached the settlement agreement by repudiating it, disclosing confidential information and threatening to sue. She was ordered to return the money and restrained from filing a lawsuit.
HP, represented by Marty Singer, petitioned to confirm the arbitration award, while McDonald argued that the agreement was unconscionable and not supported by adequate consideration. The trial judge favored Sandler, leading to McDonald's appeal on various grounds, including that the $32,000 attorney fee award was "exorbitant" and "obscene" and that she signed it while under economic duress.
The California appeals court, which generally is loath to upset arbitration outcomes, was unimpressed.
"McDonald’s contentions — that the fee award was excessive and that HP had breached the settlement agreement, which was unconscionable, subject to rescission and not supported by adequate consideration — are not subject to judicial review," writes appellate Judge Norman Epstein. "Because the trial court correctly refrained from reaching those issues, McDonald is precluded from raising them as grounds for reversal on appeal."
The appeals court also ruled that the arbitrator was authorized to issue an injunction against a lawsuit under the authority provided by the settlement agreement.