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Jacobs v. CBS Broadcasting

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
291 F.3d 1173 (2002)


Michael Givens (plaintiff) was a television script writer and a member of the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA). He worked with Westwind Releasing Corporation (Westwind) (plaintiff) to sell a script Givens wrote entitled “The Fourth Estate a/k/a/ Final Edition” to a television network. CBS Broadcasting (defendant) eventually bought the script. As part of the purchase agreement, William Webb (plaintiff) and Mike Jacobs, Jr. (plaintiff) would receive credit as executive producers and Givens would receive credit as a writer pursuant to the WGA’s rules regarding credit for writers. CBS eventually produced a show entitled “Early Edition,” which had a similar premise as “Final Edition.” Givens, Jacobs, and Webb were not named in the proposed credits for “Early Edition.” Givens appealed the credit decision to the WGA, which undertook an investigation to determine whether Givens’ participation was sufficient to warrant credit under its rules. WGA informed Givens that, following its investigation, he did not warrant credit. Givens repeatedly asked WGA to reconsider and each time WGA found that Givens did not warrant credit. Givens, Jacobs, Webb, and Westwind sued CBS in Los Angeles County Superior Court arguing that CBS breached its contract with them by not giving the plaintiffs writing and production credit for “Early Edition.” CBS removed the case to federal court. CBS filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the investigation by WGA had a collateral estoppel effect and that the issue was barred. The plaintiffs appealed.

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