EXCLUSIVE: It has taken a bit longer than the parties anticipated, but today the proposed settlement in the potential class action filed by a former intern on The Wendy Williams Show took one big step toward final resolution. Lawyers for plaintiff Anthony Tart on Friday filed a motion in federal court (read it here) seeking preliminary approval for the settlement first floated back in early June.
Sources tell me the settlement is now in the $1.3 million range with an opt-out mechanism for Lionsgate if legal fees or combined claims exceed about $800,000. No date for a hearing in front of Judge Alison Nathan has been set, though a proposed order was submitted today (read it here).
Joining the numerous intern suits that were spawned out of the still-ongoing Black Swan case, ex-TWWS intern Tart first filed his action against Lionsgate and producers Debmar-Mercury over the syndicated daytime talk show in mid-October last year. Like many of the other intern suits, Tart claimed he was made to work like a full-time employee with none of the benefits – like being paid. In late November, Lionsgate moved to have the case tossed. Around the same time, the company quietly joined other studios in the post-Black Swan reality of paying their interns.
As noted back in June when we first broke the news of a deal in the case, the proposed settlement would cover about 1,800 former interns at the company with a payout of about $500 each. Paperwork filed today in federal court would see an as-yet-undetermined amount go to the lawyers at Leeds Brown Law PC and intern legal action specialists Virginia & Ambinder as well as a $5,000 sum each to Tart and fellow instigating plaintiff Adriana Silva.
Now the next step is for Nathan to sign off, no further objections to be noted and then a final approval.
Christopher Parlo, Sam Shaulson and Stephanie Rosel Ross of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP are representing Lionsgate and Debmar-Mercury in the case. LaDonna Lusher, Alison Genova, and Lloyd Ambinder of NYC’s Virginia & Ambinder LLP are working for Tart and the other class members, as are Jeffrey Brown and Daniel Markowitz of Leeds Brown Law PC.