The ruling, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, awarded MRC $29.5 million in damages and $1.4 million in attorneys fees and costs. MRC had sought the damages for lost revenue due to Spacey’s exit.
Arbitrator Bruce Friedman’s 46-page ruling was made final in October of 2020 and remains confidential, but its results became public on Monday when MRC filed a motion in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking to confirm the award. (Read it here) A three-judge arbitration panel also rejected an appeal from Spacey and his production entities, Profitt Productions and Trigger Street Productions.
In a statement, MRC said, “The safety of our employees, sets and work environments is of paramount importance to MRC and why we set out to push for accountability.”
In MRC’s motion, it said that Friedman “found that Spacey—as a result of certain conduct in connection with several crew members in each of the five seasons that he starred in and executive produced House of Cards— had repeatedly breached his contractual obligations to provide his services ‘in a professional manner’ and ‘consistent with [MRC’s] reasonable directions, practices, and policies,’ including MRC’s Harassment Policy—all without the knowledge of MRC.”
MRC’s attorney, Michael Kump of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump Holley LLP, said, “It was a privilege representing MRC in this matter. MRC stood its ground, pursued this case doggedly, and obtained the right result in the end.”
An attorney for Spacey did not immediately return a request for comment.
House of Cards was one of Netflix’s early breakout hits, establishing the streamer’s strategy of dropping all episodes at once and making Spacey almost indelibly linked to his Machiavellian character Frank Underwood. He was set to do season six of the series, but that those plans were derailed as sexual misconduct allegations against him came to light.
In October, 2017, Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making unwanted sexual advances when Rapp was 14. Spacey apologized, and in a statement on Twitter and said that he was “beyond horrified to hear his story.” “I want to deal with this honestly and openly, and that starts with examining my own behavior,” he wrote.
But CNN also published a report with allegations from eight anonymous crew members, complaining of harassment, groping, MRC suspended production to conduct an investigation. Based on the findings of a workplace investigator, MRC concluded that Spacey breached his acting and producing agreements “that set standards for his workplace conduct, including by breaching MRC’s Harassment Policy,” according to MRC’s filing.
The series went for one more season with Robin Wright in the lead, but MRC pursued a claim against Spacey in 2019, contending that it lost money by forcing rewrites of the entirety season six and truncating it from 13 episodes to just eight.
According to MRC, the arbitration hearing included 8 days of live testimony and 20 hours of videotaped deposition testimony.
“With one exception, the Arbitrator found the third party witnesses to be credible, and found the allegations against Spacey to be true,” according to MRC’s filing.
Spacey also filed a counterclaim, alleging that he was owed money after he was dropped from the series and that he did not breach the contract. But that claim also was rejected in the arbitration. In recent years, Spacey has taped a series of Christmas Eve messages that he has posted on social media.