David Simon Drops Individual Claims in WGA Lawsuit Against Agencies

“The Wire” creator and staunch packaging fee opponent will remain a party to the guild’s broader claims

Last Updated: November 22, 2019 @ 9:47 AM

“The Wire” creator David Simon has dropped his individual claims against Creative Artists Agency in the Writers Guild of America lawsuit against top Hollywood agencies, according to court filings obtained by TheWrap.

Simon has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the practice of packaging fees, in which agencies are paid a fee for packaging talent for a project. His blog and social media posts have echoed the WGA’s arguments that such fees are a conflict of interest and have contributed to the lack of rise in overscale writer pay in Hollywood. In the WGA lawsuit, he accused CAA of violating state and federal laws, including breach of fiduciary duty, by taking packaging fees on his show “Homicide: Life on the Streets.”

In a statement sent by WGA East, Simon explained that he initially joined the lawsuit at the request of the WGA and that any money he would personally receive if the lawsuit were to be successful would be donated to charity.

“At the time, I informed my attorneys of the dates of my conflicts with CAA over their corrupt practices, as well as what I regarded as a limited settlement by which I agreed to retain my television agent at that agency while severing all contact with their literary rights division, which was specifically engaged in the fraudulent practices,” Simon wrote.

“I was informed that CAA threatened me with legal action based on the May 2000 settlement. On the advice of counsel, rather than challenge that settlement, I agreed to withdraw some, but not all, of my claims against CAA.  My view of CAA’s dishonorable performance as the representative of my work, its secret profiteering, and its bid-rigging of the work of writers in negotiations with other entities remains unchanged. Packaging is theft and a perfect idealization of what it means for a representative agency to betray clients and fail the most basic fiduciary responsibilities.”

Other writers, including “Cold Case” creator Meredith Stiehm, still have individual claims against CAA, William Morris Endeavor, and United Talent Agency that accuse the agencies of violating their fiduciary duty and harming production of their projects by taking packaging fees.

The WGA initially filed their lawsuit against the top agencies back in April, days after thousands of members terminated their representation with agencies that did not adhere to the guild’s newly ratified Code of Conduct requiring them to eliminate packaging fees to represent writers. The agencies responded with a lawsuit of their own in June accusing the WGA of participating in an “unlawful boycott” through the mass termination.

In August, the WGA dropped their state lawsuit against the agencies and consolidated the claims into a federal lawsuit that added antitrust and RICO violations to the list of charges. The Guild is looking for a judge to declare that packaging fees are a violation of federal labor laws by standing as an illegal payment from an employer to a representative of an employee. The next court date between the two sides is set for December 6, when a judge will hear the WGA’s motion to dismiss the agency’s lawsuit.

UPDATE: 11/22, 8:45 AM — Updated to include official statement from David Simon via WGA East. Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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