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Settlement reached in TV discrimination cases

A slew of television talent agencies, networks and production studios are making it clear that they do not discriminate against older writers. Nevertheless, they're paying $70 million to settle an age-discrimination lawsuit.

It remains to be seen how much money will flow to the 165 plaintiffs who participated in the class-action suit, and attorneys for both parties involved in the 10-year battle say they are not allowed to talk about Friday's settlement, which is subject to final approval by California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles.

Sources close to the situation calculate that those who joined the class action early are eligible for amounts ranging from $70,000-$140,000, and in some cases more. Those who joined later could get about 40% less, and a minimum amount has been set at $250.

The proposed formula for determining how much each plaintiff gets already is drawing heat, though the details of that formula are still being ironed out.
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Time for an age-old suit

If lawsuits, like fine wine, get better with age, this batch should be a doozy.

About 150 veteran TV writers continue their long slog toward the courtroom, with depositions in a 7-year-old age-discrimination case expected to finally commence this spring. Details of the long-on-the-vine litigation have taken so long to untangle that 10 or more plaintiffs have died since it was filed.

There was a big development in the case recently, when 70,000 mailings went out to former and current WGA members and their beneficiaries. The mailings -- targeting possibly no more than 40,000 individuals, using multiple addresses for many -- relates to a recent request for information on guild members' residual payments and health benefit files.

Case research and documentation have continued since the case was first filed in October 2000 as a civil suit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Yet only recently has an actual discovery process commenced, with plaintiff attorneys diverted for years by a thicket of defendants' motions.

First, defendants succeeded in getting the federal suit dismissed, and when 23 related suits were filed in the local Superior Court seeking class-action status, the actions were contested aggressively by defendants' attorneys. Appeals rose to the state Supreme Court, which refused to hear the defendants' appeal, and the suits were reinstated in Superior Court in January 2005.

The suits seek unspecified monetary damages on behalf of the TV writers, who claim that they can't get work in Hollywood because of their ages. It names as defendants the major studios, TV networks and talent agencies.

The proposed class action would cover 150 plaintiff writers, including such veterans of classic television as Burt Prelutsky ("Newhart", "The Mary Tyler Moore Show") and Tracy Keenan Wynn ("The Net", "The Quest"). About 60 "lead plaintiffs" are expected to figure most prominently in the imminent deposition process and potentially any trial.

Time for an age-old suit

If lawsuits, like fine wine, get better with age, this batch should be a doozy.

About 150 veteran TV writers continue their long slog toward the courtroom, with depositions in a 7-year-old age-discrimination case expected to finally commence this spring. Details of the long-on-the-vine litigation have taken so long to untangle that 10 or more plaintiffs have died since it was filed.

There was a big development in the case recently, when 70,000 mailings went out to former and current WGA members and their beneficiaries. The mailings -- targeting possibly no more than 40,000 individuals, using multiple addresses for many -- relates to a recent request for information on guild members' residual payments and health benefit files.

Case research and documentation have continued since the case was first filed in October 2000 as a civil suit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Yet only recently has an actual discovery process commenced, with plaintiff attorneys diverted for years by a thicket of defendants' motions.

First, defendants succeeded in getting the federal suit dismissed, and when 23 related suits were filed in the local Superior Court seeking class-action status, the actions were contested aggressively by defendants' attorneys. Appeals rose to the state Supreme Court, which refused to hear the defendants' appeal, and the suits were reinstated in Superior Court in January 2005.

The suits seek unspecified monetary damages on behalf of the TV writers, who claim that they can't get work in Hollywood because of their ages. It names as defendants the major studios, TV networks and talent agencies.

The proposed class action would cover 150 plaintiff writers, including such veterans of classic television as Burt Prelutsky ("Newhart", "The Mary Tyler Moore Show") and Tracy Keenan Wynn ("The Net", "The Quest"). About 60 "lead plaintiffs" are expected to figure most prominently in the imminent deposition process and potentially any trial.

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