‘Happy Days’ thesps to proceed with CBS suit

Judge's ruling allows actors to pursue claim for share of DVD revenue

Cast members of “Happy Days” won a ruling that clears the way for a trial in their suit against CBS over the merchandising revenue from the sitcom.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White on Tuesday refused to grant a summary judgment motion in favor of CBS, which owns the rights to the series. Series regulars Anson Williams, Marion Ross, Donny Most, Erin Moran, as well as Tom Bosley’s widow Patricia, filed suit last year, claiming they were owned royalties on the use of their images in series merchandise.

A fraud claim in the suit was thrown out, but the actors’ attorney Jon Pfeiffer continued to pursue a breach of contract claim. One issue is whether they are entitled to revenue from the sale of DVDs.

White stressed that her rejection of summary judgment is not a determination of the merits of CBS’ defense, but she wrote that their legal team took “a rather convoluted path to assert the right to use (the cast members’) photographs without additional compensation” in the sale of DVDs. She wrote that their argument that the cast members already are compensated via DVD sales via residuals paid by the Screen Actors Guild was “not persuasive.”

She indicated that the actors have recently been paid for other types of merchandise.

A trial is scheduled to start on July 17.