Judge Judy will probably have to recuse herself from this case.
A new lawsuit claims that popular TV judge Judy Sheindlin’s paycheck is cutting into the profits owed to a company associated with the series.
In the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, Rebel Entertainment Partners — described as “the successor-in-interest to the talent agency that packaged the Show” — claims that the company’s principle, Richard Lawrence, met Sheindlin more than two decades ago, “recognized Sheindlin’s star potential and successfully pitched” the court show “Judge Judy.”
The lawsuit names Big Ticket Television, CBS Studios and CBS Corporation as defendants.
An agreement was struck in which Rebel’s predecessor-in-interest would receive 5 percent of the show’s net profits, the lawsuit claims. However, according to the suit, CBS and Big Ticket “have acted in blatant disregard of these contractual obligations to Rebel.”
The suit claims that, despite “Judge Judy” having generated more than $1.7 billion over 19 seasons, the defendants found ways to make it appear that the show is in the red. Among the ways that CBS and Big Ticket have allegedly bilked Rebel out of profits, according to the lawsuit: By more than doubling Sheindlin’s compensation to $45 million in 2009, “thereby wiping out Rebel’s net profits.”
The lawsuit also contends that the show has been licensed to CBS-owned stations for below-market fees, and that Rebel has been denied profits from the “Judge Judy” offshoot “Hot Bench.”
Sheindlin blasted the lawsuit in a statement provided to TheWrap.
“The fact that Richard Lawrence is complaining about my salary is actually hilarious. I met Mr. Lawrence for two hours some twenty-one years ago. Neither I nor anyone involved in the day-to-day production of my program has heard from him in 20 years. Not a card, not a gift, not a flower, not a congratulations,” Sheindlin said. “Yet he has somehow received over $17,000,000 from my program. My rudimentary math translates that into $8,500,000 an hour for Mr. Lawrence. Not a bad payday. Now complaining about not getting enough money, that’s real chutzpah! Since I have not spoken with Mr. Lawrence in over 20 years to suggest that he had any involvement in my creating ‘Hot Bench’ is equally laughable.”
Alleging breach of contract and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, the suit seeks unspecified damages.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.