It looked like it was over but Avi Lerner obviously decided it wasn’t. Nearly 6-months after coming to a settlement with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees over health and pension contributions, Nu Image is taking the union plus the AFL-CIO to court over the same matter. Back in mid-2013, the IATSE health and pension plans sued Nu Image over the lack of expected payments but the two sides worked out a settlement this February to avoid a trial. Now, Lerner’s company has struck back saying its wants the dough it shelled out back and protection in the future from IATSE. Contacted by Deadline, the union had “no comment” on the lawsuit.
Nu Image is seeking unspecified compensatory damages to be proved at trial. The company is also asking for “a judicial determination that the Residual Contribution provisions in the Basic Agreement do not apply to Nu Image and that IATSE is obligated to indemnify or otherwise compensate Nu Image for any liability it incurs in the future to the Plans arising from the non-payment of Residual Contributions and for the cost of defending against any further lawsuit brought by the Plans seeking Residual Contributions,” says the July 28 filing (read it here).
This latest legal skirmish between IATSE and Nu Image was born nearly 10 years ago when Lerner’s notoriously non-union company struck a collective bargaining agreement with the union in 2006. Nu Image says union negotiators told them that they would not have to pay residual contributions to the health and pensions plans. That lack of contributions was a big part of why they went ahead with the CPA. “However, these representations were false and they were made to induce Nu Image to enter into the CBA,” says the filing earlier this week in federal court.
Perhaps most interesting is that the Expendables franchise producer has drawn a domestic production line that would leave IATSE members in the US and Canada out in the cold in their projects. “If Nu Image had known it would have to pay Residual Contributions, it would not have agreed to the Overall CBA or it would have produced these motion pictures in locations outside the reach of the Overall CBA,” says the 3-claim July 28 complaint. That might prove the Achille’s Heel in this whole thing, especially if the likes of the Teamsters weighed in and prodded everyone to work things out to keep jobs in North America.
Marty Katz and Richard Kopenhefer at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP are representing Nu Image in the legal action.