Appeals Court Denies Fox Petition in Netflix Poaching Fight

Netflix's Poaching of Fox Employees May Lead to New Law - Illo -H 2016
Illustration By Paul Hoppe

A California appeals court won't intervene in the ongoing state court fight between Netflix and Fox, according to an order filed Friday.

The potentially industry-changing legal battle began in September, when Fox sued Netflix for allegedly inducing two of its executives to breach their employment agreements. Netflix fired back on all cylinders, claiming the agreements are unenforceable and amount to nothing more than "involuntary servitude."

In a writ petition filed in February, Fox told the appeals court that the litigation would disrupt the company's business operations at the highest level and "casts a shadow over all the California employers and employees who depend on fixed-term agreements for the mutual stability they provide."

Fox asked California's 2nd District Court of Appeal to reconsider — before a final judgment is rendered in the case — both an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss and a demurrer that challenged Netflix's standing to bring a cross-complaint that were denied by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Gerald Rosenberg.

The panel of three California appellate judges wasted no words in shooting down the request. "The petition is denied," states the order. "Petitioner has an adequate remedy at law by way of appeal."

California's SLAPP statute, which bars litigation arising from constitutionally protected activity, contains an automatic right of appeal. So Fox will have an opportunity to fight Rosenberg's ruling on that motion.