Now it’s APA’s turn on the hot seat. Less than five months after CAA sued UTA over agent-poaching allegations, the Agency for the Performing Arts finds itself on the business end of a lawsuit that claims it swiped scores of clients from an agency that reps adults and kids for commercials. In a suit filed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), 30-year-old L.A. Talent claims an APA “raid of nearly 20% of LA Talent’s approximately 500 commercial clients, beginning in July of 2015, in order to provide a jumpstart to APA’s previously non-existent commercial talent division.”
Also named as a defendant is Jennie Leigh, a former LA Talent agent who now works for APA. The filing says she worked for the plaintiff for more than six years and was LA Talent’s most senior agent. The suit claims Leigh made a deal to join APA “before the completion of [her] separation agreement.” It also alleges that while negotiating severance, she “was surreptitiously contacting many dozens of LA Talent clients” and made “aggressive pitches and untrue statements” about the agency. It adds that upon termination of her employment, Leigh “immediately accepted a pending offer with APA and advised more than 50 LA Talent clients to immediately advise LA Talent to that they were switching representation to her new agency. From the number of clients that sent notice of switching in just one day, it was clear that Leigh had been setting up the move for some time.” The defectors included “some of LA Talent’s top earners,” the suit says.
The lawsuit adds: “Approximately 100 clients, many of whom have valid contracts that have not expired, have switched to APA with respect to their commercial representation. To make matters worse, APA has diverted commissions for residuals on previously completed work, both with respect to renegotiations as well as existing cycles.”
Alleging intentional interference with prospective economic damage and unfair competition and business practice, the lawsuit seeks damages including for all past and future unpaid commissions and lost income and profit. Attorney Alexander Polyachenko of Bash & Polyachenko P.C. of West Hollywood is representing LA Talent in the case.