In a legal move that comes as no surprise, the union today moved to have the remaining elements of the multi-million dollar suit filed by former SAG President Ed Asner and the 15 other members of the self-titled United Screen Actors Committee tossed out of court. In filings (read them here and here) Wednesday in federal court, SAG-AFTRA lawyers said that the amended complaint by the plaintiffs is covered by federal labor law not state law as they are asserting and should be dismissed. The union also says Asner and the United Screen Committee, who first filed their suit on May 24, are over-reaching in their claims of representation. “While Plaintiffs can maintain a cause of action on their own behalf alleging that their own funds have been converted, Plaintiffs have no right to possession or transfer of amounts allegedly owed to others and therefore their claims for others must once again be dismissed,” says the motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s first amended complaint. A hearing on the dismissal and motion to strike is scheduled for January 6, 2014. That hearing could see this case come to an end or allow Asner and crew to file another amended complaint.
Today’s filings come just over a month after District Judge Real set a June 24, 2014 trial date in the case. Earlier in October, the federal judge granted the union’s motion to dismiss a large portion of the suit over $130 million in allegedly improperly dispersed foreign residuals. The amended complaint was filed on October 23. The union has called the initial claims “completely without merit” and 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 in 2010 with a settlement. Judge Real did not cut residuals from the current case and has given three of the original 16 plaintiffs who opted out of the Osmond settlement the right to move forward on unpaid claims.
Additionally, in its filings today SAG-AFTRA wants to strike elements of the plaintiff’s amended complaint about its incorporation in Delaware and the advantages that may or may not have offered union Executive Director David White and a business associate of his that Judge Manuel Real had previously ordered removed from the suit. “The new language is practically identical to the allegations this Court struck, with the few changed words scattered throughout the passage failing to alter the core fact that Plaintiffs have simply restated allegations that this Court has already held impertinent, immaterial and prejudicial,” says the union.