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Coelen, UTA duke it out

Former agent, percentery trade suits

Former UTA agent Chris Coelen has responded to a suit, filed earlier this month by his former employer, with his own suit, claiming he is not bound by the agency’s noncompete clause and that he has not been paid his full wages.

Coelen, who founded and headed UTA’s alternative TV department, ankled the percentery in February to head the U.S. arm of former UTA client RDF Media, the company behind “Wife Swap.” Coelen also launched Pangea Management Group, an RDF-backed company designed to represent British producers.

UTA sued on May 8, claiming Coelen secretly engineered a reduction of fees owed to the agency by RDF Media and abruptly left the agency to start Pangea, despite signing a noncompete clause.

Coelen’s suit, filed Tuesday in L.A. Superior Court, alleges that his employment agreement with UTA ended on April 30, 2004, and that he was employed under a letter of agreement, under which he did not have an ownership interest in UTA. After his attorney told Coelen that UTA would not negotiate the liquidated damages and noncompete clause of the partnership agreement, Coelen did not sign, but resigned in February without any ownership interest in UTA.

The complaint seeks reimbursement of expenses plus unpaid vacation and wages as required by the California Labor Code. It also seeks a court declaration that the non-compete and liquidated damages clauses are invalid and unenforceable.

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