Judge Dismisses Managers’ TAA Suit in California

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A lawsuit filed by the National Conference of Personal Managers challenging California’s Talent Agencies Act was dismissed Wednesday.

NCOPM’s suit, filed in federal court last November, named Gov. Jerry Brown and Labor Commissioner Julie Su and Attorney General Kamala Harris as the plaintiffs, and sought declaratory and injunctive relief and claimed the state’s Talent Agencies Act violates the U.S. Constitution.

The trade group said the TAA unfairly penalized personal managers for allegedly acting as unlicensed talent agencies, and claimed the California Labor Commissioner has voided personal management contracts and ordered management commissions to be forfeited or returned as a result.

The judge, Dean Pregerson of the Central District of California, wrote that NCOPM’s evidence amounted to something akin to “naked assertions” and was not “sufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

The NCOPM’s legal counsel is currently reviewing the court’s opinion and will meet with officials sometime this week to discuss their options for moving forward with what they consider to be important litigation.

NCOPM, a national trade association based in Nevada, will be issuing a statement following that meeting, a spokesman told Backstage.

The line between the functions of licensed talent agents and of managers, who aren’t licensed is often indistinguishable.

In their suit, the managers’ lawyers cited the case of Rosa Blasi, an actor on the Lifetime series “Strong Medicine.” Blasi played Dr. Luisa ‘Lu’ Delgado on the Whoopi Goldberg-produced series about a woman’s health clinic for six years.

Marathon Entertainment Inc., her manager, said it landed her the lead role and in exchange Blasi had agreed to pay it 15 percent of her earnings from the show. But she reneged on the deal. A subsequent legal battle resulted in the courts invalidating Marathon’s personal management contract with Blasi for unlicensed talent agency services in violation of the TAA.

Cases like that, the managers’ group says, violate the group’s rights of free speech and association as well as the provisions against indentured servitude and equal protections under the law, among others.