EXCLUSIVE: A little over two weeks after CAA were told they could file a new complaint in the ongoing lawsuit with UTA over the latter snaring five senior CAA comedy agents and many of their clients back in March 2015, the uber-agency struck back today with that new amended complaint – and they are naming names. Specifically, UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer, UTA General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Andrew Thau, and UTA Associate General Counsel Michael Sinclair.
“CAA is informed and believes that in and possibly even before, January 2015, UTA initiated conversations with Cavic, McKnight, Heyman, Lesak, and Nuciforo about leaving CAA to join UTA,” said the new language peppered paperwork filed today in L.A. Superior Court (read it here). While still talking about an “unlawful midnight raid” and “illegal and unethical activities” as they have in past complaints in the legal battle, CAA’s latest filing adds references to the UTA leadership and allegations of their direct role in Greg Cavic, Greg McKnight, Jason Heyman, Martin Lesak and Nick Nuciforo, John Sacks, Susie Fox, Joanna Scott, Mackenzie Condon and Chelsea McKinnies all leaving the former uber-agency for the latter last spring.
“CAA is further informed and believes that, during, and as a result of these discussions, UTA and UTA’s officers, directors, and/or managing agents—including, but not limited to UTA’s Chief Executive Officer, UTA’s General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, and UTA’s Associate General Counsel—read and/or learned of the existence of the Nuciforo Agreement, the Lesak Agreement, and the Heyman Agreement,” adds today’s filing of the employment contracts the former CAA agents had with their then employers – agreements that CAA say were well within the territory of the seven-year rule UTA has waved around in the matter.
With the addition of Zimmer, Thau and Sinclair’s names directly to the case, the obvious purpose of today’s complaint for CAA is to establish their contention that there are sufficient allegations against UTA directly for punitive damages to be awarded in the matter. Earlier this month Judge Lisa Hart Cole ruled that while CAA can go after McKnight and Cavic for such damages they would have to submit more material to see any such movement against UTA.
After the poaching of the comedy agents and the migration of a number of their big clients, CAA first started legal action over the “illegal” move on April 2 last year. That seven-claim complaint was followed by a first amended complaint in September. As things stand now, a summary judgment hearing in the case is currently set for September 7 with a possible trial to start on December 12
These court proceedings of course are running parallel with an arbitration in the matter that is happening behind closed doors – where, undoubtedly, the real action is happening.
As for this action – Anthony Oncidi and Keith Goodwin of L.A. firm Proskauer Rose LLP are representing CAA in the lawsuit. Bryan Freedman, Sean Hardy and Brian Turnauer of Freedman + Taitelman, LLP are representing UTA. (Full disclosure: Freeman + Taitlman LLP have represented Deadline’s parent company PMC in various legal matters.)