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Matthau v. Superior Court

151 Cal. App. 4th 593, 60 Cal. Rptr. 3d 93 (2007)

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Matthau v. Superior Court

California Court of Appeal

151 Cal. App. 4th 593, 60 Cal. Rptr. 3d 93 (2007)

Facts

William Morris Agency, LLC (plaintiff) represented actor Walter Matthau from 1960 until his death in 2000. The first 10 years of the agency relationship were evidenced by written contract. However, after 1970, no written contracts were entered, but William Morris Agency continued to receive 10 percent of Walter’s gross compensation. After Walter’s death, William Morris Agency continued to receive its 10 percent commission on royalties derived from Walter’s acting performances from his loan-out company, The Matthau Company (TMC) (defendant). During his life, Walter was a member of the union the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and William Morris Agency was a member of the union the Association of Talent Agents (ATA). The contract between the parties was governed by a collective-bargaining agreement between SAG and ATA, or Rule 16(g). Rule 16(g) required that any disputes governed by the collective-bargaining agreement be resolved in arbitration. In 2003, Walter’s son, Charles Matthau (defendant), became president of TMC and stopped paying commissions to William Morris Agency. William Morris Agency filed a petition to compel arbitration. Charles and TMC claimed he was not subject to arbitration because no valid contract existed. The trial court below granted William Morris Agency’s petition, and Charles and TMC filed a writ of mandate, seeking to vacate the order.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Boland, J.)

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