Lionsgate’s $1.3 Million Settlement of ‘Wendy Williams Show’ Intern Lawsuit Approved

Preliminary ruling gives tacit OK to class action status for the suit, which also involved interns who worked on Fox’s “Black Swan”

Nicole Wallace on The Wendy Williams Show

Lionsgate’s payment of a $1.3 million settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by former interns was granted preliminary approval by U.S. district judge Alison Nathan Tuesday.

Anthony Tart, a former intern on “The Wendy Williams Show” filed the suit for himself and “others similarly situated.”  In making the ruling, the judge has given tacit approval to a class certification for the suit. In July, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a summary judgment ruling in favor of interns who worked on Fox Searchlight’s feature film “Black Swan.”

The ruling will be closely monitored by media and entertainment companies. CBS, NBCUniversal, Conde Nast and Gawker have been targeted in similar suits involving interns.

Nathan based her ruling on whether internships must be paid comes down to whether the intern or the employer is the “primary beneficiary” of the relationship. The interns in this case, and throughout the industry, get educational credit for work performed but are often unpaid.

Another reason the judge gave for giving her OK to the settlement was the difficulty that the plantiffs would have researching and making their case, because “the claims and defenses are fact-intensive and present risks, including … the risk that recovery, if any, could take years and would require significant discovery and expense.”

Lionsgate isn’t admitting liability with the settlement, which will now brought for final approval after a “Fairness Hearing.”