The Law Office of Lynnette Ariathurai A Professional Corporation

TV show cast sues Fox in California court over contract dispute

Contracts allow various parties to come to an agreement about a working relationship. At the onset, parties have the freedom to design the contract with almost any terms they wish. However, there are some laws which regulate certain types of contracts. For example, in California there is a law which limits personal service contracts to no more than 7 years. Based on this law, the cast of the popular television sitcom 'Modern Family' is suing 20th Century Fox Television in a contract dispute action.

The stars of the show are claiming that the contracts they signed with 20th Century Fox Television are illegal because it locks them into a deal which extends past the seven year limit. The agreement caps their raises at 4 percent per year for four of the actors and actresses, while one actress has her raise capped at 5 percent each year. The main star of the show had negotiated a separate contract, but has expressed support for and solidarity with his costars.

The dispute could go in several different directions. It is possible that 20th Century Fox will settle with the plaintiffs and agree to change the contracts. They may even agree to a cash settlement if they can negotiate a suitable amount for all parties. This would help all parties avoid costly legal and court fees associated with lengthy litigation.

However, a contract dispute cannot always be solved through settlement. Sometimes the disputing parties just cannot find common ground. When this is the case, it is often necessary to go to court and ask a judge to hear arguments and make a ruling in how to best resolve the dispute. In regard to the complaints made by the cast of "Modern Family," it remains to be seen how the California courts will rule. At the moment, there are no reports of any settlements in the works.

Source: New York Daily News, "'Modern Family' stars sue 20th Century Fox over 'illegal' contracts as salary dispute turns ugly," David Hinckley and Gina Salamone, July 24, 2012

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