David Cassidy’s lawsuit against Sony over royalties from the Partridge Family shows no signs of slowing down.
Right now, Sony & Cassidy are arguing about whether the case should be tried to a jury, or decided by an arbitrator.
The biggest drawback to arbitration is that an arbitrator, who is not a judge, has total control in deciding the outcome of the cases. Unlike a court or jury trial, arbitrations cannot be appealed. Further, in arbitrations, under certain circumstances, the party who wins can ask for their attorneys’ fees — which is the opposite of the American justice system, which does not adopt the “loser pays” rule.
Apparently, because Cassidy once signed an agreement with Sony that included an arbitration provision, Sony is asking the court to dismiss the case and compel arbitration.
Cassidy’s lawsuit involves his 1971 contract with Screen Gems (now Sony), for which he was supposed to get 15% of net merchandising revenues for use of his name, image, voice, or likeness. Cassidy’s lawsuit alleges that Sony has failed to pay him millions of dollars of royalties, and refused to allow an audit of the merchandise sales generated from the show.
The problem is often that up-and-coming entertainers, like Cassidy in 1971, are too trusting of production companies and management agencies, who often present them with complicated legal documents that are difficult to understand. Often, these companies have financial interests that are distinct from those of the actors, talent, or artists.
Individuals signing production, merchandise, or other deals should be very wary of these pitfalls and consult with talent-side lawyers to help them understand what they are signing and advocate for the their interests. To obtain an assessment of your entertainment rights, click here for a confidential legal consultation.