November 05, 2012 5:20pm PT by Matthew Belloni
Agent Dan Aloni Sues CAA for $5 Million in Allegedly Unpaid Bonuses
Dan Aloni, the top talent agent who recently was fired by CAA and hired by rival WME, has filed a legal action against his former employer alleging he's owed more than $5 million in unpaid bonuses.
In a petition to compel arbitration filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Aloni -- whose clients include director Christopher Nolan, comic actor Mike Meyers and writer-producer David Goyer -- claims he's been short-shrifted by CAA and been denied a proper arbitration of his claims.
"Mr. Aloni has various claims against CAA arising out of its wrongful termination of his employment, including but not limited to CAA's refusal to pay Mr. Aloni bonuses related to his performance, CAA's refusal to pay Mr. Aloni a bonus related to CAA's transaction with TPG Capital and CAA's refusal to pay Mr. Aloni the value of his unused vacation time," says the petition.
CAA declined to comment.
Aloni says his employment agreement with CAA included an arbitration clause, so he tried to initiate a private arbitration with the agency Oct. 12. But CAA is alleged to have refused to participate in an arbitration of his demands for a bonus related to TPG, which purchased a 35 percent stake in the agency in 2010, and other bonus claims. So Aloni sued to enforce his arbitration rights. And he's attached some pretty interesting documents, including his employment agreement with CAA (salaries redacted) and the back-and-forth lawyer letters that led to the court filing.
This isn't the first legal action related to Aloni's move from CAA to WME. In September, longtime client Nolan sued CAA and WME asking a court to tell him which agency should receive his commissions. The Dark Knight Rises director and his wife/producing partner Emma Thomas said, “Demand has been made on the Plaintiffs by their former and current talent agencies to pay commission on sums arising out of the same project."
The legal question here is whether Alon's bonus demands are subject to the arbitration agreement and whether it's the arbitrator or a judge who gets to answer that question. As you might recall, this issue came up in Charlie Sheen's legal war with Warner Bros. and Two and a Half Men co-creator Chuck Lorre. In that case, Sheen had and arbitration clause in his WB deal but he also asserted claims against Lorre, with whom he did not have an agreement to arbitrate. The judge ruled that the arbitrator had jurisdiction over the entire dispute.
Aloni is repped by Patricia Glaser, Kerry Garvis Wright and Alexander Kargher of L.A.'s Glaser Weil firm.