Writers Guild Advises Members on Next Steps After Court Ruling

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"The agencies will be required to defend, in public, those practices that for decades they sought to keep private," the WGA stated.

A day after a Los Angeles federal judge dismissed most of the Writers Guild of America's claims in its lawsuit against the major agencies, the guild wrote a note to its members on its next steps. 

"This is not the 'victory' they predicted or that they needed, which was the complete dismissal of the lawsuit," read a letter signed by the WGA's agency negotiating committee, referring to plaintiff agencies CAA, UTA and WME. At the center of the dispute has been the long-standing practice of packaging fees, in which agents are paid directly by a studio for attaching talent to a writer's pitch.

On Monday, federal judge Andre Birotte dismissed eight of 14 claims, with racketeering and federal price fixing charges unable to be refiled by the guild. Of the racketeering charge, the judge wrote that the "Guild's allegations fail to demonstrate that they face a real or immediate threat of irreparable injury."

The WGA, in its Tuesday letter, noted that the "most disappointing of those dismissed was the racketeering charge."

"Discovery — which the agencies have reason to fear and which has already begun — will now proceed in force. The agencies will be required to defend, in public, those practices that for decades they sought to keep private," the guild wrote to its members. 

After the ruling on Monday, UTA, CAA and WME released a pointed statement claiming that the guild leadership has "led thousands of writers over a cliff, wasted their member dues on failed lawsuits, and left them without agents to represent and advocate for them for more than a year."

The WGA has 14 days after Monday's ruling in order to file an amended complaint. The guild's note to members on Tuesday is below.

Dear members,

Yesterday the federal judge handed down a decision on motions in the lawsuit the WGA filed against WME, CAA and UTA. He upheld some of our claims and dismissed others. The most disappointing of those dismissed was the racketeering charge. But the core claims of our lawsuit — namely, that packaging is a breach of fiduciary duty, and that the agencies have committed antitrust violations by fixing the price of those packages — those claims remain.

While the agencies are predictably claiming victory in hopes of undermining member solidarity, in private they are not celebrating. This is not the “victory” they predicted or that they needed, which was the complete dismissal of the lawsuit. Instead, six powerful claims that, in their scope, call into question the entirety of the packaging regime will now continue to trial. Discovery — which the agencies have reason to fear and which has already begun — will now proceed in force. The agencies will be required to defend, in public, those practices that for decades they sought to keep private. For those purposes, six claims is enough.

Through all of this, our goal has always been the same, to realign agency economic interest with ours. This lawsuit remains powerful pressure in that direction. And it operates alongside our greatest asset: your solidarity in continuing to deprive the remaining unfranchised agencies of their writer clients.

With the judge’s decision yesterday, there will be no lifeline to shield the agencies. We look forward to proceeding with discovery and then to trial.

In solidarity,

WGA Agency Negotiating Committee