7:39pm PT by Ashley Cullins
CBS Claims Fraud in Response to Agent's 'Judge Judy' Profit Lawsuit
The man who questioned Judge Judy Sheindlin's $47 million salary and accused CBS of shady accounting practices is a fraud, according to the network's answer to his complaint.
Richard Lawrence sued in March, claiming his company Rebel Entertainment Partners hasn't received its 5 percent packaging fee since 2010 because CBS doubled Sheindlin's salary and changed its compensation structure to keep the show from earning net profits.
The network is asserting 11 affirmative defenses, including fraud and breach of contract, according to the answer filed Friday by attorney James Curry on behalf of Big Ticket Television and its parent CBS.
Not only was Lawrence not harmed by any action on its part, the network claims, but he "knowingly concealed a material fact" in order to land his packaging deal.
The response claims two women who worked on The People's Court discovered Sheindlin through a 60 Minutes episode and pitched her to Lawrence. Lawrence then signed an agreement to represent those women, Sandi Spreckman and Kaye Switzer, but never actually signed Sheindlin on as a client, according to Big Ticket.
"Despite the fact that Judge Sheindlin refused to enter into an agreement with Lawrence, Lawrence pitched the Project to several potential syndicators including, but not limited to, Big Ticket," Curry writes in the answer. "On information and belief, Lawrence did not disclose that he did not represent Judge Sheindlin in connection with the Project."
Big Ticket argues it only entered into an agreement with Lawrence and his agency Abrams-Rubaloff & Lawrence, which included a packaging fee, because he concealed the fact that he did not represent Sheindlin.
"The only 'value' Lawrence brought to the show was two producers who were fired during the first season, and yet Lawrence and ARL continued to collect package commissions based on that supposed value for over 20 years to the tune of approximately $17,000,000.00," Curry writes.
If Lawrence did lie about representing Sheindlin, it would certainly explain her colorful response to his suit.
In a March 14 statement to The Hollywood Reporter, she said it was "hilarious" that Lawrence was complaining about her salary and that no one involved in day-to-day production of Judge Judy had heard from him in 20 years.
“I met Mr. Lawrence for two hours some 21 years ago," said Sheindlin. "Yet he has somehow received over $17,000,000 from my program. My rudimentary math translates that into $8,500,000 an hour for Mr. Lawrence. Not a bad payday. Now complaining about not getting enough money, that's real chutzpah!"