May 22, 2012 10:50am PT by Jonathan Handel
Dismissal Formalized in SAG-AFTRA Merger Lawsuit (Exclusive)
Federal Judge James Otero accepted on Tuesday the proposed order filed by the parties dismissing the federal lawsuit that sought to enjoin the SAG/AFTRA merger referendum, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The move marks the formal end to the litigation.
The referendum passed almost two months ago and last week, the parties filed a settlement agreement to dismiss the case. That came after a letter from plaintiffs’ counsel David Casselman released Wednesday, addressed to SAG-AFTRA’s outside lawyer, Bob Bush, in which Casselman agreed to dismiss the case.
Under the settlement, neither side will pay damages or attorneys fees to the other. As is usual, none of the parties admitted liability. The dismissal is “with prejudice,” a legal term that means the lawsuit cannot be refilled. The settlement encompasses “all claims brought . . . or that could have been brought in the (lawsuit).”
The rerendum’s passage was overwhelming: 82 percent of SAG members voted Yes, and 86 percent of AFTRA members did so as well. The tally was announced March 30. The Hollywood Reporter subsequently reported another unexpected result, that the Yes vote was 78 percent in SAG’s Hollywood Division, previously a stronghold of merger opponents.
Those numbers, and the court’s refusal two days earlier to enjoin the vote count, set the stage for today’s dismissal.
As THR previously reported, the current lawsuit is the fourth filed in the last six years against SAG by members of the MembershipFirst group, whose leaders are key plaintiffs in the current suit.
The defendants in the current suit, in addition to the union, were SAG-AFTRA co-president Ken Howard, co-secretary-treasurer Amy Aquino and executive vice-president Ned Vaughn, vice-presidents Mike Hodge and David Hartley-Margolin and national executive director David White.
The plaintiffs were Martin Sheen, Edward Asner, Ed Harris, Valerie Harper, Clancy Brown, James Remar, George Coe, Diane Ladd, Lainie Kazan, Nichelle Nichols, Renee Aubry, Jane Austin, Erick Avari, Steve Barr, Sara Barrett, Terrance Beasor, Michael Bell, Warren Berlinger, Joe Bologna, Ralph Brennen, Alexandra Castro, Jude Ciccolella, Cynthia Lea Clark, David Clennon, Joe D’Angerio, Patricia D’Arbanville, Dick Gautier, Dorothy Goulah, Marty Grey, Sumi Haru, Angel Harper, Basil Hoffman, David Huddleston, Anne-Marie Johnson, David Jolliffe, Kerrie Keane, Peter Kwong, Kurt Lott, Barbara Luna, Eric Lutes, Stephen Macht, Michael McConnohie, Peter Antico, Susan McNabb, Phyllis Timbes, Marguerite Moreau, Traci Murray, Nicole Mandich, Larry Newman, Barbara Niven, Kathleen Nolan, Jack Ong, Peggy Lane O’Rourke, Leslie Parrish, Scott Pierce, Robin Riker, Stephanie Rose, Alan Rosenberg, Alan Ruck, Wendy Schaal, Tascha Schaal, Nancy Sinatra, Cynthia Steele, Renee Taylor, Malachi Throne, Beverly Todd, Jessica Wright and Momo Yashima. In addition, there were a number of other clients in the litigation who were not listed as plaintiffs, including Paul Edney.
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