2:03pm PT by Jonathan Handel
CAA Fires Back at Writers' Legal Claims, Calling Them "Preposterous"
CAA on Thursday filed a response to the Writers Guild of America’s litigation against the four largest agencies, calling the individual plaintiffs’ claims “preposterous” and reserving to another day a response to the WGA itself.
The litigation, filed by the guild and eight individual plaintiffs, included claims by David Simon and Meredith Stiehm against CAA, but the agency asserted that Simon’s claims are barred because he signed a settlement agreement 19 years ago and that Stiehm’s are barred because she was informed and aware of all the times her shows were packaged and did not object.
“On May 4, 2000, in return for a payment of $30,000, Mr. Simon expressly released CAA in writing from any and all claims with respect to Homicide, specifically including any claims arising out of CAA’s packaging fees,” reads CAA’s response. That means his claim is barred by the settlement, and is stale in any event.
“Meredith Stiehm’s claims are equally preposterous,” the filing continues. “She has known for decades that she was being included in television packages, and has repeatedly agreed in writing for 24 years that CAA, after helping her to secure employment on television shows, would receive prescribed packaging fees from the production studios instead of charging her any commissions.”
The answer also says that CAA will file a response to the WGA’s claims later. That is likely to happen within 10 days, due to court rules. The reason for bifurcating the answer was not immediately clear, but it could be that the four defendant agencies — WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners — intend to coordinate their response to the WGA, as the guild’s claims are essentially the same from agency to agency.
In contrast, each of the individual plaintiffs have different claims against different agencies, relating to different shows, time frames and, at least in some cases, different legal postures, as evidenced by the Simon settlement agreement.
It’s unknown whether the agencies also intend to file counterclaims against the WGA, or even against the individual plaintiffs (though the latter seems unlikely).