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Showbiz Managers Seek Appeals Court Ruling on Talent Agencies Act

An organization of talent managers is appealing a ruling that threw out their challenge to the the California Talent Agencies Act, which prohibits them from procuring employment for clients.

In March, U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson threw out their suit, contending that courts have already established what “procuring” means. The National Conference of Personal Managers claimed, among other things, that the state’s ban on unlicensed managers from “procuring” employment was “unconstitutionally vague.”

In their appeal, the managers org claims that Pregerson’s dismissal of their case was in error and that the court abused its discretion. It also asks that the appellate court declare the that the Talent Agencies Act is unconstitutional in that it violates due process and equal protection, and that it interferes with interstate commerce and restrains First Amendment protected commercial speech. They also claim that the act impairs their right to contract and subjects managers through “legal coercion” to enforced service without compensation.

Clinton Ford Billups Jr., the president of the org, said that personal managers have lost “in excess of” $500 million in compensation because the California Labor Commissioner has ordered disgorgement or the managers have been forced to settle claims.

The filing of the appeal is the latest chapter in a longtime effort on the part of personal managers to challenge the Talent Agencies Act.

In a 2008 decision, the California Supreme Court ruled that the Talent Agencies Act does apply to personal managers and they may not recover fees from clients if they procured work for them. The case stemmed from a case involving Rosa Blasi, an actress on the TV show “Strong Medicine.” After her management firm, Marathon Entertainment, sought unpaid commissions, she filed a petition with the state Labor Commissioner who sided with her and voided the management contract.

The org is represented by Stephen F. Rohde in it appellate case, and lead counsels Ryan Fowler, Christopher Good and William Ferguson of Fowler & Good. The defendants in the appeal are California Gov. Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su.

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