×

SAG-AFTRA Stuck With Tab on Suit by ‘Leave It to Beaver’ Actor

Ken Osmond settled lawsuit over foreign levies in 2011

A federal judge has ruled SAG-AFTRA is on the hook for the $330,000 it paid to Ken Osmond and his attorneys to settle his class-action suit over foreign tax revenues.

The union had sued Federal Insurance Co. in Los Angeles in 2011 for refusing to reimburse the funds paid to the “Leave It to Beaver” actor.

U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee granted Federal Insurance’s motion for summary judgment on Thursday to settle Ken Osmond’s class-action suit over foreign tax revenues.

“In this case, SAG’s own coverage position and assertions lead to but one result, which is that, insofar as SAG is and was, prior to the Osmond action, obligated to account for and distribute the foreign levy funds to the plaintiff class, SAG fails to establish that the $330,000 award arises from a ‘covered’ claim under the policy,” she wrote.

The suit alleged that Federal was in breach of contract under the terms of the policy covering legal claims, which was in effect when Osmond filed his action in 2007. SAG, which became SAG-AFTRA last year, sought damages of $330,000 on each of two claims, plus its additional costs.

Osmond, who played Eddie Haskell in “Leave It to Beaver,” sued over SAG’s handling of “foreign levies” collected from countries through mechanisms such as taxes on video sales and rentals to compensate copyright holders for reuse. The guild finalized a settlement in February, 2011, under which he received $15,000 and his lawyers received $315,000.

Federal Insurance argued that settlement funds were not covered under its policy and that there was no coverage for a claim seeking “unpaid benefits.” SAG argued that the policy covered any sum was legally obligated to pay under the “incredibly broad” definition of a wrongful act.

“SAG’s argument is not persuasive,” Gee wrote.

Gee granted SAG-AFTRA’s motion to replace SAG as a plaintiff.

The Osmond settlement brought about judicial oversight of SAG’s handling of “foreign levies,” which started flowing in 1989 after the U.S. agreed to the terms of the Berne Convention establishing the right of authorship for individuals. SAG, the WGA and the DGA began collecting the funds in the early 1990s on behalf of members and nonmembers.

Osmond’s suit contended that SAG overstepped its authority to make those agreements and never disclosed them until he and Jack Klugman threatened to file suit. A similar suit on the foreign levies issue was filed in 2005 against the WGA West by William Richert and was settled in 2010; another was filed in 2006 against the DGA by William Webb, who settled in 2008.

SAG-AFTRA was sued May 24 by 15 members including former SAG president Ed Asner, alleging extensive misconduct in its handling of foreign levies and residuals they are owed.  The suit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles by the United Screen Actors Committee, alleges SAG-AFTRA has improperly withheld funds and stonewalled requests for information about $110 million held in trust by the union.

The union has brushed off the allegations and insisted it has done nothing wrong.

SEE ALSO: Ed Asner, 15 Others Sue SAG-AFTRA Over Unpaid Funds (EXCLUSIVE)

More Biz

  • Harvey Mason Jr.., Chair of the

    Interim Grammy Chief Slams Deborah Dugan in Letter; Warns of ‘Misinformation,' 'Leaks'

    As the war of words between the Recording Academy and ousted president/CEO Deborah Dugan continues to escalate, interim boss Harvey Mason Jr. today issued a statement to the Academy’s membership about Dugan’s alleged misconduct and warned about “leaks and misinformation.” The letter claims that Dugan’s attorney Bryan Freedman sought “millions of dollars” for his client [...]

  • Frontrunners Emerge As BBC's Tony Hall

    Frontrunners Emerge as BBC Boss Tony Hall Set to Leave Broadcasting Behind

    As the U.K. industry reacts to news of Tony Hall’s intention to depart the BBC this July, top-level executives including Charlotte Moore and Tim Davie as well as external contenders such as Channel 4’s Alex Mahon are beginning to emerge. Variety understands that Lord Hall, who has headed the BBC for seven years as director [...]

  • Recording Academy President/CEO Deborah Dugan participates

    Executive Assistant Preparing Lawsuit Against Ousted Grammy Chief

    In the latest twist in the increasingly bitter exit of Deborah Dugan from the Recording Academy after just five months, the ousted president/CEO is about to face a lawsuit from her former assistant, Claudine Little, who has retained former Harvey Weinstein/ Charlie Walk attorney Patty Glaser to represent her, two sources tell Variety. The news was [...]

  • Two Rivers Media Buys Out Parent

    Two Rivers Media Buys Out Parent Kew Media Group's Stake In Business

    Two Rivers Media has bought out parent group Kew Media Group’s minority stake in the business. Formed by former STV Productions head Alan Clements in January 2019, the production outfit behind Channel 5’s recent “Susan Hill’s Ghost Story” launched with the backing of Kew, Noble Grossart Investments and Channel 4’s Indie Growth Fund. Noble Grossart [...]

  • Grammy Awards 60th Annual Grammy Awards,

    Recording Academy Paid Millions Annually to Outside Law Firms

    Among the concerns listed in a memo sent to the Recording Academy’s head of HR by president/CEO Deborah Dugan before she was placed on administrative leave Thursday was an item about the organization’s “exorbitant and unnecessary” legal fees to outside law firms, according to sources familiar with the document. According to the most recent 990 [...]

  • Chuck D of Public EnemyGods of

    Public Enemy’s Chuck D Slams Grammys Over Deborah Dugan Ouster

    Chuck D, frontman of Public Enemy — who are receiving the Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Grammys next week — posted a long statement on Instagram criticizing the Recording Academy over its sudden ousting of new president/CEO Deborah Dugan yesterday. Dugan, who had been in the job only five months, was placed on administrative leave after [...]

  • Any Given Wednesday With Bill Simmons

    Spotify in Talks to Acquire Bill Simmons' The Ringer: Report

    Spotify is in early talks to acquire The Ringer, the digital content and podcast network launched by ESPN alum Bill Simmons in 2016, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. A representative for Spotify declined to comment on the report. Reps for Ringer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spotify’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content