CAA and the WGA settled their long-running legal battle yesterday, but they’re still arguing about how they got there in the final days leading up to the settlement. In court papers filed Thursday, CAA attorney Richard Kendall told U.S. District Court Judge André Birotte Jr. that the account the WGA gave the court about the last three weeks of their negotiations is “somewhat misleading” and “paints an inaccurate picture of what occurred.”
“As the Court knows, CAA and the WGA and individual counterclaimants have resolved the instant litigation,” Kendall told the judge. “On December 16 (yesterday), in light of the parties’ settlement, CAA withdrew its pending motion for a preliminary injunction. After resolving the matter, CAA’s counsel was surprised to receive the WGA’s ex parte application to strike certain reply evidence, which contains the following statement: ‘During the first three weeks of December, the Guilds and CAA met on multiple occasions and exchanged multiple proposals, ultimately reaching agreement on the terms pursuant to which CAA is entering into a new franchise agreement with the Guilds.’
“The WGA’s statement is somewhat misleading,” Kendall wrote. “In the normal course, the natural thing for CAA’s counsel to do in this situation, now that the case is settled, and with the stipulations of dismissal pending before the Court, would be to let this ex parte filing go unanswered. But that might be perceived as an implicit acknowledgment that the WGA’s account is true. This very brief response is designed to set the record straight.
CAA, he told the judge, “repeatedly reached out to the WGA in early December in an effort to negotiate. Those early-December efforts were ignored. On December 6, 2020, CAA sent a letter to the WGA expressing disappointment in WGA’s continued failure to engage. Finally, on December 10, the WGA met by zoom with CAA’s counsel for an ‘information’ session. However, at that session, the WGA did not make any proposals. The WGA’s first proposal arrived on December 11, a few hours after CAA filed its reply brief.
“Thus, at the time CAA filed its reply brief, the WGA had made no proposals to CAA, and the parties had finally had one informational meeting on the previous day. To the extent that the WGA is now suggesting that the Guilds and CAA were meeting on multiple occasions and exchanging proposals before the reply brief was filed, that paints an inaccurate picture of what occurred. We are, of course, appreciative that the WGA did finally engage and that, once they did, this matter was quickly resolved.”
The settlement, which allows CAA’s writer-clients to return to the agency after firing their agents en masse in the spring of 2019, leaves WME as the last major agency not to have signed the guilds’ franchise agreement. WME is scheduled to be in court Friday for a hearing on its request for a preliminary injunction to end the guilds’ boycott until the case can go to trial. But WME said yesterday that the deal between CAA and the guild “is a positive development and suggests a path forward for WME to reach an agreement as well.”
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