A sexual assault and harassment lawsuit filed in 2019 by a former APA employee against CEO Jim Gosnell, two other employees at the agency and a former executive at production company Collins Avenue has been dismissed.
The matter was resolved in arbitration after the case was referred there by an LA Superior Court judge. The dismissal did not involve any paid settlement and was based on the “merits,” according to a public statement agreed to by all parties.
The suit, filed in June 2019, alleged that APA had created a “toxic” workplace. The plaintiff, who was referred to only as “Jane Doe” in the complaint, cited a number of explicit text messages and emails. The notion that employees “felt brazen enough to put their bad behavior in writing is reflective of how toxic, tolerant and protective of APA’s culture of sexual and racial discrimination is,” the suit claimed. Gosnell was accused of berating her, using coarse language, throwing office objects at her and obstructing her progress from the assistant level to becoming an agent.
Doe also alleged she was sexually assaulted by Michael Hammond, former Chief Operating Officer at Collins Avenue Productions, which was an APA client with credits including reality shows like Dance Moms. (The company was acquired by Asylum’s The Content Group in 2020.)
In July 2019, APA asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to refer the complaint to arbitration, calling it a “continuing unabashed attempt to extort and shake down” the company. The agency described it as a “frivolous” suit brought in retaliation to the employee being “terminated.”
According to the public statement released last week, the dismissal of the suit followed closer scrutiny of the texts and emails cited as evidence.
“During the arbitration proceedings between the parties, the Arbitrator directed the retention of an independent examiner to analyze the authenticity of certain text messages and email messages Jane Doe alleged were exchanged between herself and the other parties in support of her claims,” the statement said. “Following the preliminary results of the examination, Jane Doe voluntarily dismissed with prejudice the claims against APA, Gosnell, Santana, Humiston, and Hammond on the merits, without any payment.”
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