Netflix Sued By Fox Over Exec Poaching, Vows To “Vigorously” Fight Suit


UPDATED, 1:40 PM: Using offense as their defense, Netflix hit back today against the multi-claim lawsuit Fox filed Friday over two executives jumping over the streaming service while still under contract.

“We intend to defend this lawsuit vigorously,” a Netflix spokesperson told Deadline Friday, just hours after the company was slammed with an injunction seeking complaint over their “brazen” actions. “We do not believe Fox’s use of fixed term employment contracts in this manner are enforceable.  We believe in employee mobility and will fight for the right to hire great colleagues no matter where they work.”

There are going to be some uncomfortable moments at at least one Emmy party this weekend – or some resumes being handled out at the Netflix shindig on Sunday.

PREVIOUSLY, 12:55 PM: Netflix snagged another new executive last week and got slammed by Fox today in a lawsuit alleging the streaming service has “illegally” been poaching employees.

The home of House of Cards has been conducting a “brazen campaign to unlawfully target, recruit, and poach valuable Fox executives by illegally inducing them to break their employment contracts with Fox to work at Netflix,” says the jury trial desiring complaint filed today in L.A. Superior Court. “This action is necessary to enforce Fox’s rights, to hold Netflix liable for its wrongful conduct, and to prevent Netflix from continuing such illegal conduct,” the 8-page intentional interference with contractual relations cliaming filing adds.

Specifically, the execs in question are current Netflix promotions and drama programming development bigwigs Marco Waltenberg and Tara Flynn. The former made the leap to Netflix earlier this year and the latter was lured over in recent weeks despite both having still in effect employment contracts with Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation – contracts that Fox says Netflix knew all about and willfully shattered as part of its wide spread hirings of late.

Besides unspecified damages, the Fox plaintiffs want “a permanent injunction enjoining Netflix, and its agents, servants, employees, attorneys, successors and assigns, and all persons, firms and corporations acting in concert with it, from interfering with any of Fox’s Fixed-Term Employment Agreements”

Having inked an agreement with Fox in late December 2014, Waltenberg was set to be VP, Promotions until the end of this year – with an extension option of two more years. Serving as serve as Executive Director, Creative, and then VP, Creative, Flynn first signed her two-year agreement with Fox on November 19, 2013. Like Waltenberg’s, Flynn’s deal had a two-year extension option, which Fox put in effect in July last year and then, with a raise,  amended again to last until November 2019.

“As our complaint explains, we filed this lawsuit because we believe Netflix is defiantly flouting the law by soliciting and inducing employees to break their contracts,” said a spokesperson for Twentieth Century Fox and Fox 21 on Friday. “We intend to seek all available remedies to enforce our rights and hold Netflix accountable for its wrongful behavior,” the Fox rep added.

Netflix did not reply for comment on the lawsuit, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

In this legal battle, Fox went for a heavyweight, hiring Daniel Petrocelli of O’Melveny & Myers LLP. The attorney is joined by the firm’s Molly Lens and J. Hardy Ehlers.

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