UTA, Agent Michael Camacho Headed to Trial in Romantic Conflict Case (Exclusive)
A judge has denied a summary adjudication motion, setting up a $10 million October showdown over whether a producer was steered to a bad job to benefit another client who was in a relationship with the agent.
A Los Angeles judge has denied UTA and top reality TV agent Michael Camacho's effort to escape portions of a lawsuit claiming they placed an ex-client in an unfavorable job that benefitted another client with whom the agent was having a romantic affair. A trial date has been set for Oct. 15 in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Scott Einziger, a reality producer whose credits include CBS' Big Brother, filed suit in August 2011 claiming he is owed more than $10 million from UTA and Camacho because the agent allegedly steered him from a stable and lucrative job at Big Brother to a risky post at a new company being formed under the RelativityReal banner, which was to be operated by Ellen Rakieten, a former Oprah Winfrey Show producer who was engaged in a "serious personal relationship" with the married Camacho, according to the lawsuit.
While UTA would only receive a standard 10 percent commission from Einziger if he took the Big Brother job, "UTA and Camacho represented RelativityReal as a packaging agent and stood to obtain lucrative fees from projects developed under the auspices of RelativityReal that came to fruition,” the complaint alleged.
The suit claimed that working with Rakieten later became "toxic" due to her relationship with Camacho, who allegedly referred to Rakieten as his "soulmate." As Camacho's behavior became erratic, the lawsuit alleged, Einziger quit RelativityReal in May 2011, and Camacho allegedly dropped him as a client via text message shortly afterward.
Einziger, represented by Paul Sorrell at Lavely & Singer, is claiming he “ultimately lost millions of dollars in compensation, career momentum and reputation" due to the alleged conflict of interest. His suit alleges breach of oral contract, breach of fiduciary duties and other causes of action.
UTA and Camacho, repped by Bryan Freedman at Freedman & Taitelman, then filed a motion for summary adjudication to knock out the breach of fiduciary duty claim, alleging, among other things, that Eizinger suffered no damages and that he offered no proof that he wouldn't have taken the RelativityReal job if there wasn't a personal relationship between Camacho and Rakieten. But in a decision issued Friday, Judge Richard Stone denied UTA and Camacho's motion, clearing the way for a trial.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Freedman says: "This lawsuit remains simply a malicious and desperate attempt to extort payment. To date, we have rejected all attempts by Mr. Einziger and his representatives to settle this case, and, with or without a summary adjudication, we look forward to meeting in court and prevailing in trial."
Sorrell responds, "We believe the claims have substantial merit and look forward to presenting our claims in court."
Sources say an Aug. 3 mediation failed to produce a settlement. Camacho, who is a partner and head of the alternative TV division at UTA, was deposed recently for two days.