10:49am PT by Eriq Gardner
Spike Lee Sued for Pension and Health Benefits Allegedly Owed
Filmmaker Spike Lee was hit with a lawsuit on Wednesday. In New York federal court, the directors of three union-industry plans claim he hasn't made sufficient health and pension contributions.
According to the complaint against Lee, Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks, and Black Butterfly Productions, an audit of the companies' books found nearly $45,000 in unpaid contributions for a period between September 2007 and March 2010. The lawsuit makes reference to Lee's 2008 film, Miracle at St. Anna.
The plaintiffs manage health and pension plans for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Studio Transportation Drivers and the American Federation of Musicians.
Lawsuits over health and pension contributions are common, though it's not often that such actions attempt to pierce the corporate veil and hold an individual officer personally liable.
Here, the lawsuit reports that Black Butterfly is a signatory to collective bargaining agreements, and that Lee "exercised dominion and control over Black Butterfly" and "treated the assets of Black Butterfly as his own; and that in so doing, used Black Butterfly's corporate assets while failing to pay just debts."
It's further asserted that "through Lee’s fraudulent operation and control of Black Butterfly, Lee is liable to the Directors and Black Butterfly and Lee are obligated to pay to the Directors all unpaid contributions, interest, liquidated damages, audit costs, legal and attorneys’ fees as set forth in the CBAs and Trust Agreements."
Lee's response will be added if provided.