'Happy Days' Television Stars Sue CBS/Paramount for $10 Million
October 25, 2011
In a recent Hollywood employment lawsuit development that our Irvine, California labor and employment attorneys have been watching, cast members from the legendary television show "Happy Days" have suffered a reported setback in their current $10 million lawsuit against CBS/Paramount over merchandising revenue from the comedy sitcom.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the cast sued CBS in April of this year, claiming that they were never paid for years of home video releases and licensed show merchandising that used their images and voices --during the run of the series, that lasted from 1974 until 1984 and has continued to run for years in television syndication. They are accusing CBS/Paramount of bad business practices and breach of contract.
The lawsuit claims that although they all received different salaries, they had the same contracts in regard to merchandising--each actor was to receive a percentage of the net proceeds if images of them were used in a group, after the studio took its handling fee, which was a reported 50% off the top.
The employment lawsuit reportedly began after an actor from the show saw their images on a casino's slot machines. The same actor had also noticed that starting in 2004, the show had been repackaged into four different DVD box sets with pictures of the cast on the boxes and inside the DVD material. The lawsuit is accusing CBS/Paramount of continuing to market the brand to merchandisers, selling everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs with cast pictures, with never intending to pay them for merchandise with their images.
The case accused CBS/Paramount of oppression, fraud, malice, and breach of contract, which the actors reportedly felt entitled them to punitive damages as well as around $10 million in damages that they believe they were owed, plus interest.
Last week, a judge threw out the claim that CBS/Paramount committed fraud by neglecting to pay them for the slot machines along with other products that have been licensed around the show over the years with their images. The decision reportedly means that the television stars including Marion Ross, Anson Williams, Erin Moran, Don Most, and Tom Bosley's widow, will not receive punitive damages at the June 2012 trial.
CBS reportedly claimed that the studio is happy that all claims for punitive damages have been thrown out, narrowing this down to a lawsuit about contract interpretation. The attorney representing the "Happy Days" actors stated that they intend to continue moving forward with the breach of contract lawsuit. The judge also granted the request from CBS/Paramount that fraud, concealment and conversion claims be thrown out in the case--leaving the breach of contract case to continue.
In Orange County, California, contact Howard Law, PC today for a free consultation about your labor and employment rights.
'Happy Days' Cast Suffers Setback in $10 Million Lawsuit Against CBS, The Hollywood Reporter, October 19, 2011
'Happy Days' Cast Sues CBS, Paramount for $10 Million, The Hollywood Reporter, April 19, 2011
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