According to multiple sources, at least three of the defecting agents — comedy powerhouses Jason Heyman, Martin Lesak and Nick Nuciforo — were under contract to CAA when they abruptly exited Tuesday morning just as their move to UTA.
According to THR, CAA, has now hired prominent employment attorney Anthony Oncidi of Proskauer Rose to represent the agency, likely will argue that the agents have brazenly breached their contracts. Other likely claims in a lawsuit that could come as early as Wednesday would be for unfair competition against the defectors and a claim against UTA for intentional interference with contracts — an argument that basically would seek to hold UTA liable for inducing the CAA agents into breaching their contracts. In addition, if the defectors — there could be as many as 11 of them (and counting) as of Tuesday night — took with them any CAA documents, trade secrets or company data, or if they sought to recruit top clients such as Chris Pratt and Will Ferrell (who already have followed their agents to UTA) while still employed at CAA, there could be additional claims. Plus,
A case previously by a legendary agent, who spent most of his career at ICM before defecting to William Morris in 2007, taking with him such clients as Denzel Washington, Steve Martin and more. Limato was under contract to ICM but when the agency tried to diminish his status, he argued, in effect, that his contract was “illegal” because it violated California’s strict “seven-year rule” for personal services contracts.
That law dates back to actress Olivia de Havilland‘s lawsuit against Warner Bros. in the 1940s for repeatedly extending her contract with the studio after “suspending” her for rejecting suggested roles. In 1944, the California Court of Appeal ruled that de Havilland — or any other actor, director or other talent in the entertainment industry — could not be subject to a contract to perform personal services beyond seven years from the beginning of the deal. The so-called “de Havilland law” fundamentally changed Hollywood, brought about the end of the old studio system and allowed talent agencies to amass power.