CAA, UTA Lawyers Wrestle in Court Over Dates, Seven-Year Statute

Attorneys for CAA and UTA jousted in court on Monday during a case management hearing on the lawsuit CAA filed following the defections of more than a dozen agents to UTA in March and April.

Superior Court Judge Lisa Hart Cole declined CAA’s request to set a trial date. CAA attorney Anthony Oncidi acknowledged that he would file an amended complaint to address challenges raised in demurrers filed by UTA in May. It is expected to be filed within 30 to 60 days.

The case revolves around the question of the contracts that three of the agents — Jason Heyman, Martin Lesak and Nick Nuciforo — had with CAA at the time of their departure. UTA’s lawyers maintains they were invalid because the length of the contract exceeded seven years, which is a violation of California law.

CAA maintains the contracts were valid because the threesome had struck renewal deals with the agency over the years, which constituted new contracts that did not exceed the seven-year time frame.

UTA attorney Bryan Freedman told Judge Cole, who presided over the case in the Santa Monica courthouse, that he would seek a summary judgment on the seven-year rule in connection with the case. If the court finds that the contracts did violate the seven-year rule “the rest of the case falls by the wayside.”

CAA’s litigation against UTA is playing out on two fronts, in the civil lawsuit and through private arbitration filed per the terms of the employment contracts for Heyman, Lesak and Nuciforo. Two other key defectors, Gregory Cavic and Gregory McKnight, were not under contract and are part of the civil suit. CAA attorneys emphasize that Cavic and McKnight were part of a conspiracy to interfere with the trio’s contractual relationship with CAA and to also divulge CAA trade secrets to a competitor.

Freedman stressed to the judge that the question of the validity of the contracts is key to determining how the case proceeds. “There can’t be interference if there is no contract,” Freedman said.

The arbitration process for the trio moving ahead now that an arbitrator has been set for the case through JAMS. But the civil action is expected to move forward more quickly.

Judge Cole on Monday agreed to accelerate the previously scheduled hearing on UTA’s demurrers to Dec. 11, up from Dec. 18. But in fact those dates will likely change once CAA files its amended complaint and UTA responds.

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