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Grammer v. The Artists Agency
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
287 F.3d 886 (2002)
Since the 1980s, the Artists Agency (defendant) represented actor Kelsey Grammer (plaintiff), relative to his television and film projects. In the early 1990s, Grammer became dissatisfied with the lack of projects secured for him by the Artists Agency and sought to modify his contract so that he could seek alternative representation for film projects. The parties reached a settlement agreement in 1995 wherein Grammer was released from his film obligations to the Artists Agency in exchange for extending his television and commercial obligations for two years. The agreement was postdated to commence over a year after it was executed and to end two years after the commencement. The settlement agreement was filed with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). SAG initially rejected the agreement, but after the parties asserted the agreement was negotiated by competent counsel, SAG accepted the terms. In 1996, Grammer terminated his relationship with the Artists Agency in total and claimed he was not obligated under the contract because it violated Rule 16(g) of SAG’s collective-bargaining agreement in that the contract (1) postdated such that the execution and commencement dates did not correspond, (2) spanned longer than three years because of the postdating, (3) was executed prior to the last third of the term of the previous contract, and (4) was filed more than 15 days after its execution. One provision of Rule 16(g) provided that any waiver of the terms must be written, but another provided a means for waiver to occur without being evidenced in writing. The Artists Agency sought arbitration. The arbitration panel found that although the settlement agreement violated Rule 16(g), SAG’s acceptance of the agreement constituted a valid waiver. Consequently, the panel awarded the Artists Agency $2 million in back commissions. Grammer filed a declaration action in federal court, seeking to vacate the arbitration award. The district court affirmed the arbitration panel’s award, and Grammer appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Tashima, J.)
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