So says the following press release from the parties. And since I wrote about this case early on, would it be possible for me to get a teeny, tiny part of the settlement?
Despite the “we’d win at trial” claims, such a settlement represents a major victory for older writers, who have long maintained that the networks’ emphasis on attracting younger demographics has caused the industry to discriminate against writers over 50 with proven track records.
Oh, and you’ll note a typo in the release: After years of litigation, apparently, the parties are still trapped in 2009:
Producers and Talent Agencies
Reach Preliminary Agreement to Settle with TV Writers
Los Angeles, January 22, 2009 — Seventeen major television
networks and production studios and seven talent agencies today
announced the settlement of nineteen long standing cases that allege
intentional and unintentional age discrimination in the selection and
representation of television writers. The announcement was made jointly
by the defendants and Paul Sprenger of Washington D.C., Lead Counsel for
the 165 named plaintiffs and the settlement classes. The settlement is
subject to final approval by the California Superior Court in and for
the County of Los Angeles.
The defendants strongly deny the plaintiffs’ allegations and state that
their hiring and/or representation practices fully comply with the law
and reflect their commitment to equal employment opportunity. They also
note that they all have long-standing anti-discrimination policies and
regularly employ or represent substantial numbers of writers over the
age of forty.
The parties have been litigating these claims for almost ten years,
including several appeals to the California Court of Appeal and the
California Supreme Court. The defendant networks and production
companies (including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, The WB, UPN, Columbia TriStar
Television, Inc., DW SKG TV L.L.C., Universal Media Studios, Regency
Television, Spelling Television, The Carsey-Werner Company LLC,
Touchstone Television, Twentieth Century Fox Television, and Warner
Bros. Television) and the defendant talent agencies (APA, The Endeavor
Agency, The Gersh Agency, Paradigm Talent & Literary Agency,
Shapiro-Lichtman, UTA, and the William Morris Agency LLC) have agreed,
subject to court approval, collectively to pay a total of $70 million to
settle all claims against them and their affiliated companies,
including class members’ alleged damages, costs and attorneys’ fees.
Approximately $2.5 million of this total settlement amount will be used
to create a Fund for the Future, which will issue grants and loans to
settlement class members to further their writing careers and study ways
to supplement their pensions and improve access to medical insurance.
Approximately two-thirds of the $70 million settlement payment will be
paid by insurance carriers.
The settlement provides a process for settlement class members to apply
for an allocated cash distribution from the settlement fund. The Fund
for the Future, which will be governed by a board composed of settlement
class members, will issue grants and loans for approved projects on a
“I speak for all class counsel in recommending that all settlement class
members accept the settlement. We are honored to represent a
distinguished and talented group of clients and class members,” stated
Sprenger. Plaintiffs and the settlement classes were also represented
by, among others, the law firms of Sprenger & Lang, PLLC, Kator
Parks & Weiser, PLLC, Law Office of Daniel Wolf, Schwartz,
Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers LLP, the AARP Foundation Litigation,
Katz, Marshall & Banks, and Blecher & Collins.
“We were fully prepared to oppose class certification and would have
prevailed at trial if necessary,” said Seth E. Pierce, of Mitchell
Silberberg & Knupp LLP, Defendants’ Liaison Counsel. “But with
years of disruptive litigation remaining, and all networks and major
television studios and talent agencies participating in the settlement,
it made sense to bring these protracted cases to a close.” Defendants
were represented by, among others, the law firms of Mitchell Silberberg
& Knupp LLP, Epstein Turner & Song, P.C., Glaser, Weil, Fink,
Jacobs, Howard & Shapiro, LLP, Kaye Scholer LLP, Judith Salkow
Shapiro, P.C., Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Munger, Tolles &
Olsen LLP, Murchison & Cummings LLP, Paul Hastings Janofsky &
Walker LLP, and Proskauer Rose LLP.
For more information about this settlement, please visit the Claims
Administrator website at http://www.TVWritersSettlementAdmin.com or Plaintiffs’
litigation website http://www.TVWritersCounsel.com.
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