Unsurprisingly, the former union president and the other plaintiffs in their lawsuit against SAG-AFTRA claiming the union had not properly disbursed $110 million in foreign residuals don’t agree with the union’s desire to dismiss the bulk of the case or strike a portion of it. In a series of filings late Monday and early today (read them here & here & here), Ed Asner and the other 15-members of the self-titled United Screen Actors Committee allege an “extreme web these parties have woven to steal money that rightfully belongs to U.S. performers, if not others as well.” The plaintiffs are urging the federal court to reject the motions SAG-AFTRA filed back on July 31 in response to their initial suit. “Ironically, the very statements which Defendants want to strike portray a Union and its leadership, as well as Labor Consultants, clearly indifferent to federally mandated LMRDA requirements requiring transparency and accountability in Union finances, as well as access to Union contracts, not to mention the right to timely learn about and to vote upon whether to ratify or reject such contracts,” the 10-age opposition to motion to strike also notes.
This latest move in the case comes one month after SAG-AFTRA’s first national election since its spring 2012 merger and just under two weeks before the union’s first national convention, to be held in LA from September 26 – 29. Asner, who was SAG President from 1981 to 1985, and the others filed their initial suit on May 24, 2013. A court hearing on the motions is scheduled for October 7.
In their opposition to the motion to dismiss, the United Screen Actors Committee this week also rejected the union’s assertion that their case is a “virtual verbatim restatement” of the 2007 class action by Ken Osmond of Leave It To Beaver fame and other actors accusing SAG of not properly paying out $8.1 million in overseas royalties. That case was resolved back in 2010 with a settlement. Calling out the union for wanting to appear as “an innocent labor organization who has been wrongly accused of mishandling of Residuals as well as Foreign Royalties/Foreign Levies,” plaintiffs’ claim that the 2007 case and theirs are very different, in part because the union itself is different now. “AFTRA’s receipt and distribution of Residuals as well as Foreign Royalties Foreign Levies has never been challenged, while AFTRA had not even merged into SAG when the Osmond Class Action Settlement was sanctioned by the state court. Had AFTRA been included, the notice which would have to have been given would have more than doubled.”
Asner and fellow plaintiffs Clancy Brown, George Coe, Tom Bower, Dennis Hayden, William Richert, Louis Reeko Meserole, Terrence Beasor, Alex McArthur, Ed O’Ross, Roger Callard, Steven Barr, Russell Gannon, Stephen Wastell, James A. Osburn, and Eric Hughes AKA Jon Whiteley are represented by Burbank attorney Helena Wise. The union is represented by Robert A. Bush, Jason Wojciechowski, Ira Gottlieb and Julie Gutman Dickinson of Glendale firm Bush Gottlieb Singer Lopez Kohanski Adelstein & Dickinsonare.