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Marino v. Writers Guild of America

992 F.2d 1480 (1993)

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Marino v. Writers Guild of America

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

992 F.2d 1480 (1993)

Facts

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) (defendant) was a union representing screenwriters in the film industry. Nick Marino (plaintiff) had been a WGA member since 1985. WGA had the authority to determine which writers receive screen credits for their contributions to a screenplay. Such determinations were made by an arbitration panel. In 1985, Marino wrote an adaptation for Godfather III, which was purchased by Paramount Pictures Corporation (Paramount). The screenplay never made it to production. In 1987, Marino wrote a second draft of the script and sent it to executives at Francis Coppola’s production studio. The studio did not purchase the script. Rather, Coppola and Mario Puzo wrote their own screenplay for Godfather III, which was eventually produced and completed. Before the film’s distribution, Marino was informed that WGA was conducting an arbitration to determine the film’s screen credits. The panel considered Coppola’s and Puzo’s previous writing credits for the Godfather franchise but declined to consider Marino’s 1987 draft. Ultimately, the panel determined that only Coppola and Puzo would receive writing credit. Marino then brought suit, seeking to vacate the arbitration award and obtain declaratory relief. The case was removed to federal court, and WGA moved for summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment for WGA. Marino appealed, arguing that the arbitration process in place by WGA was fundamentally unfair because he was not allowed to know the identity of the arbiters and because WGA, as his union, breached its duty to fairly represent his interests.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fernandez, J.)

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