UPDATE: 6:45 P.M.FRIDAY: As anticipated, CAA has taken its second legal action over UTA’s poaching of several of their agents earlier this week. Under the terms of the employment agreements of Jason Heyman, Martin Lesak and Nick Nuciforo, CAA formally sought arbitration today over the reps’ defection to UTA.
PREVIOUSLY, 4:55 P.M. THURSDAY: EXCLUSIVE: Two days after UTA shocked the town by hiring away five senior CAA comedy agents, who brought star clients Chris Pratt, Will Farrell and Ed Helms and put many others in play, the litigation portion of this turf war has begun. CAA filed a multi-claim complaint today against UTA and former CAA agents Greg Cavic and Greg McKnight, asking restraining orders stopping any services to those new clients plus a variety of damages including cash paid to its two former employees “during their period of disloyalty,” the suit claims (read it here). Along with Cavic and McKnight, CAA lost comedy department cornerstones Jason Heyman, Martin Lesak and Nick Nuciforo, who took with them their colleagues John Sacks, Susie Fox, Joanna Scott, Mackenzie Condon and Chelsea McKinnies. UTA had no comment on the lawsuit when contacted by Deadline.
“This case is about a lawless, midnight raid that UTA and its co-conspirators launched against CAA in a desperate attempt to steal clients and employees,” said CAA in the intentional interference with contractual relations, conspiracy and other claims filed in L.A. Superior Court. “Months in the making, this illegal and unethical conspiracy has resulted in a number of agents who were under contract to CAA to brazenly and abruptly breach their contractual obligations to CAA and to intentionally and deliberately interfere with CAA’s existing and prospective economic relationships with its clients. In the process, UTA and its co-conspirators have tortiously inflicted economic damage upon CAA,” adds the dense 19-page jury seeking complaint.
Because Cavic and McKnight were not under contract to CAA they are directly named in today’s action along with UTA itself. Three of the biggest defections from CAA were Heyman, Lesak and Nuciforo but while mentioned extensively, the trio was not named as defendants in Thursday’s filing. The three were under contract to CAA,, the filing reveals. Sources say, that the agency intends to soon pursue legal action against them as well. That likely will be in the form of seeking arbitration under the provisions of their employment contracts.
The lawsuit alleges that Cavic and McKnight delayed meeting and deals for clients so they wouldn’t have to pay commissions and other fees to CAA upon heading out the door to UTA. “Defendants should not be permitted to profit from their illegal and unethical activities,” says the suit, accusing Cavic and McKnight of “working clandestine with each other and UTA” to get the other agents to jump ship. “Consequently, CAA seeks damages, injunctive relief, and restitution as a result of Defendants’ willful, wanton, and malicious corporate raiding.”
Anthony Oncidi and Keith Goodwin of L.A. firm Proskauer Rose LLP are representing CAA in the lawsuit.