Writers Guild Withdraws State Suit Against Agencies, Refiles in Federal Court

The Writers Guild of America has withdrawn its state court suit against WME, CAA and UTA alleging packaging fees are illegal and re-filed suit in federal court.

The WGA also responded to antitrust claims brought against the guild by the three agencies. Those agency suits alleged that the WGA abused its power in April by telling members to fire their agents if those agents had not signed the new Code of Conduct.

“Over the years the major agencies have repeatedly broken federal antitrust law by conspiring to fix the price of packaging fees,” said WGA West president David A. Goodman. “Their current campaign to preserve the packaging fee model by strong-arming smaller agencies also violates the law. We are simply asking the court to stop these agencies from illegally enriching themselves at the expense of writers.”

The federal counter-claim charges that the agencies’ packaging fee model violates their fiduciary duty to their clients and constitutes a system of illegal kickbacks and price-fixing under federal law. The action also charges violations of federal antitrust laws via the agencies’ “collusive agreement not to negotiate individually with the Guilds” and “collusive agreement to blacklist writers or other individuals or entities who object to packaging fees or agree to the Guild’s Code of Conduct.”

The guild is seeking a declaration that packaging fees are unlawful. It’s also asking the court to order agencies to provide an accounting of all packaging fee deals involving Guild members and disgorge all profits generated from unlawful and unfair packaging fees.

The WGA said that the state court claims will be consolidated and decided as part of the federal court action.

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