August 05, 2013 1:23pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Julianna Margulies Denied Emergency Appeal in Commissions Fight
The Good Wife star Julianna Margulies lost another round on Monday in a commissions fight with the management firm of Steve Dontanville.
Thanks to a ruling in June denying her summary judgment, Margulies is facing a potential trial this October over D/F Management's claims that it is owed money now being estimated in the millions of dollars, a toll that rose substantially after The Good Wife was sold in syndication in March.
To escape the possibility of being on the witness stand in such a trial, Margulies filed an emergency petition before a California appeals court. But today she heard back that the judges there weren't yet interested in entertaining her arguments that the dispute was playing out in the wrong venue.
Margulies would prefer to be in New York rather than California so she can better use something called the "statute of frauds" to beat a claim of breach of an oral agreement. Dontanville alleges that his firm was promised 10 percent of what she continued to make on shows and for product deals that were negotiated while it represented her. The statute of frauds requires that certain contracts be signed and in writing.
In the June ruling, the trial judge shrugged off arguments by Margulies' attorney that she lived and did much of her work in New York. Dontanville's lawyer pointed out that she owned a multi-million-dollar home in California and routinely did business there, and that her "loan-out" company was incorporated there too. Plus, she once routinely communicated with Dontanville, who lives and works in the state. Judge Ernest Hiroshige kept the case and applied California law, prompting a quick appeal.
In reaction to Margulies' appeals attempt, the other side doubted the existence of irreparable harm needed to show why this was such an emergency, to be addressed now. "At best, they appear to seek special treatment because Margulies is a celebrity who, in their view, should not have to bear the burden or expense of a trial," read the opposition papers.
The petition has now been denied without substantial comment.
"We are pleased, but once again, not surprised, by the Appellate Court’s swift rejection of the defendant’s petition for an appeal," said Mathew Rosengart of Greenberg Traurig, who represented the plaintiff. "Four judges have now looked at the issue, and the decisions speak for themselves."
As a result of the appeals court's refusal to interfere now, the parties are still on track for an October trial, barring any settlement. Once a trial concludes, if she doesn't prevail, Margulies is free to take another shot at an appeal on jurisdictional grounds or questioning the judge's allowing a dispute over an oral contract to reach a jury's ears.
But Margulies' first appeals attempt seems to suggest that Dontanville is prepared to lean on last year's appeals ruling in a Lisa Kudrow commissions fight that oral contracts that pay managers post-termination are customary in the entertainment industry.