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UTA Fires Back At CAA In Comedy Agent Defection Lawsuit

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — New filings have revealed more about United Talent Agency's legal response to the lawsuit filed in April by rival Creative Artists Agency over the defection of 12 comedy agents in one of the biggest shifts in the agency business in years.

UTA's legal response is aggressive, suggesting that CAA's suit is manufactured and "riddled with hoods, inconsistencies, unsubstantiated allegations and glaring omissions" in "a flailing and desperate attempt to save face" according to documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

"CAA's complaint is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to illegally restrict competition through the court system and stands in direct contravention of California's strong public policy favoring free and open competition, and employee mobility," reads UTA's legal filing.

According to THR, lawyers for UTA are seeking to invoke "seven-year rule," which provides that no personal services contract can last longer than seven years, and assert that while agents Heyman and Lesak, two of the defectors, began their employment with CAA in 2009, the agency entered into a written employment agreement with both in 2005.

"As CAA is well aware, those employment contracts have collectively long exceeded the seven-year rule," UTA argues. "Heyman and Lesak's contracts are therefore unenforceable, rendering CAA's causes of action for interference with those contracts legally unsustainable."

As well, the UTA suit points out that CAA hired both Lesak and Heyman from UTA, where they were both partners and at the time, agreed to indemnify them for the breach of their agreements with UTA.

UTA is represented by Bryan Freedman, Brian Turnauer and Sean Hardy of Freedman & Taitelman. – Staff Writers