Dispute between Patti Davis, manager thickens

Claims Judy Coppage acted as unlicensed agent

The latest battle between managers and the application of California's Talent Agencies Act involves the daughter of a former president.

Patti Davis claims her former manager Judy Coppage acted as an unlicensed agent when she allegedly tried to procure screenwriting work for Davis.

Coppage, who is based in Studio City, responded to Davis' complaint with the state's labor commissioner Thursday, claiming her former client's effort to void their contract is unconstitutional.

The dispute arose from Coppage's attempt to collect $4,355.31 in small claims court after Davis allegedly refused to pay commissions for TV movie script "Sacrifices of the Heart."

Davis responded by filing a complaint with the labor commissioner.

"Ms. Davis' reaction is far from unique: though the legislature's original intention was to rightly shield those who needed statutory protection, the act is now almost uniformly used as a sword by those utilizing the statutes only to avoid paying otherwise owed and deserved commissions," Coppage claims in her response.

Coppage's battle is the latest in a growing number of complaints filed by talent against their managers over unpaid commissions.

Manager Rick Siegel, owner of Marathon Entertainment, has gone as far as the California Supreme Court to try to change how the TAA is applied to managers.

In his case, his former client, Rosa Blasi, claims he unlawfully procured employment for her, including her role on Lifetime's "Strong Medicine."

The state's high court ruled that a violation of the TAA by a manager does not necessarily mean the entire contract is voided and that the labor commissioner and courts could "sever" those alleged violations from the rest of the contract.

Siegel has since taken his battle to federal court.

According to the National Conference of Personal Managers, over the last 40 year the state labor commission has voided an estimated $250 million in personal management commissions.