WGA’s long legal battle to reshape the talent agency business is now officially over. On Tuesday, US District Court Judge André Beirut Jr., who oversaw the case, approved a request by the WGA and WME to voluntarily dismiss the antitrust claims, thereby ending the case with the words “I so ordered.”
Beirut’s al-Qadir handling of one of Hollywood’s most important antitrust cases in years helped make a final settlement possible when the WME attorney urged the union to settle their dispute before it was brought to trial. “Come on, guys. Meet up.” He told their lawyer during a virtual hearing in December.
Explaining, in everyday language, what was at stake in the case, while gently urging the attorneys to settle, he then said: “It seems to me that the subject matter of this litigation is two aspects that seem to want the same thing, and it seems that they want it will happen sooner rather than later. About how to do it. Both sides want to defend the book. The agencies want to represent them enthusiastically, and the unions want to protect them. I say this because I hope you keep that in mind as you go forward. And I say it because I’m worried, and I might be wrong, in the midst of litigation, with the attorneys. And exceptional CEOs – and the arrogance that sometimes comes with that – and when you combine that with the dynamics of money and power, people can lose focus. And I worry that the people most affected by litigation are kind of a wing. I think it’s fair to say that the people who are most It’s not us. They aren’t the lawyers, probably not even the CEOs. They are the writers and agents who have been in this turmoil as you all fight loudly and publicly about it. “
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The case went through three justices in the Los Angeles Superior Court before being transferred to federal court in August 2019, where it is listed on the Beirut agenda. ICM Partners, who was a defendant in the state case, was dropped as a defendant when he went to federal court, leaving WME, CAA and UTA to fight the union.
And during numerous memos and hearings, Beirut, the former US attorney who was appointed by President Obama to federal court in 2014 – with the US Senate voting 100-0 to affirm him – issued fair judgments that tipped the scales of justice back and forth benefiting one side and the other according to the law.
In December 2019, when the WGA opposed Trump’s Justice Department attempt to speak at a hearing on the union’s proposal to dismiss the agencies ’unified antitrust complaint, the judge wrote:“ The United States ’request to participate. On December 6, 2019, the respondent’s motion to be heard was denied. Order like this. ” However, he did not dismiss the case, as the union had hoped. Instead, in April of last year, he dismissed a large portion of the union’s antitrust claims – which the agencies described as a “resounding victory” – but left the most important elements of the union’s lawsuit in place. And in August, after the UTA settlement, he denied proposals by WME and CAA to dismiss remaining fraud and price-fixing allegations for the union – a big win for the union.
Then, in December, after the CAA settlement, the judge rejected WME’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have ended the WGA boycott of the agency until the case went to trial. It was another legal victory for the union, and increased pressure on WME for a settlement. Last month, the judge approved their request to delay the trial by six months so that they could focus on settlement talks.
With WME signing the WHGA franchise agreement last week, which will end mobilization next year and reduce the agency’s ownership of subsidiary production entities to only 20%, all that remains of the case is for Judge Beirut to sign their request for an order granting a joint condition for the voluntary separation of the case, which is What he did today. And so it was.