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Mark Ryan (The Prestige, Robin Hood, Transformers) joins in regarding sudden appearance of thousands of dollars in Residuals at SAG-AFTRA held since 2001 ..........
Eric Hughes Explains foreign Royalties and Residuals Scandal
Jan. 29th /20/20
Well, Mr. Hadl and Mr. Grossman and others were among the architects of the whole foreign levy scheme, as they themselves call it, and they are as active today as 19 years ago.”
In the "download" link right below these paragraphs you may discover the pdf file of court exhibits and evidence showing corruption, fraud, false reporting, collusion etc. in the mysterious case of RICHERT VS. WGAw, a 7 year class action lawsuit on behalf of all American writers that never happened "for real."
It was all a sham. More and more will be written and posted here and other places to illustrate that beyond question.
The evidence and documents in the download were given by Plaintiff William Richert into the hands of Honorable William F. Highberger at the LA Superior Court just before the commencement of a Court Ordered Mandatory Arbitration conducted by Judge Highberger with Tony Segall and Emma Leheny appearing for the WGAw, Paul Kiesel and Neville Johnson purportedly for the writers they represented, and William Richert acting "in pro per" for the true writers who were to be bound by this lawsuit.
While files and statements in these courtroom mediations with Judges are sealed by law, the exception was made here by Judge Highberger because William Richert had already shown the documents to his class, as the class was not able to attend the mediation, and Mr. Richert explained that the lawyers were not representing the class, but themselves -- hence the need for the April 29, 2009 mediation with all the lawyers and the Plaintiff.
William Richert left the five hour arbitration refusing to settle the lawsuit.
He was convinced to sign the settlement agreement only after 3 days of meetings with class action expert Paul Kiesel (who misled him) and after being assured by Judge West that His Honor would look after the case for three years.
These promises have been broken.
On Jul 10, 2013, at 11:16 AM, william richert wrote:
MEMO TO WGA members and independent American writers and to the USAC:
The lawyers mentioned in the following letter are among the same "Superlawyers" being sued today in Federal Court by the United Screen Actors Committee vs SAG.
Starting in 2005, the WGA, DGA and SAG class action lawsuits were filed by Neville Johnson based entirely on original investigations and discovery by 2004 WGA Presidential Candidate Eric Hughes ("AGAINST ALL ODDS").
Letters like these, and the attached file of evidence, are almost always sealed in hearings like this. I told Judge Highberger it was my obligation to keep the class who could not attend the hearing informed, and thus I had already emailed the letter and stack of evidence I was bringing to the courtroom. Judge Highberger accepted the publication of the letter and evidence.
FROM PLAINTIFF'S LETTER TO THE JUDGE:
“…Now, why is Robert Hadl advising Neville Johnson in this matter, which is about the guild’s 18 year partial-thefts and embezzlement of royalties writers they don’t represent, and even worse, that they sign away almost the whole amount – over 90% -- of this money to studios, who never hired these writers and never paid them, but nonetheless take almost all the money.
Well, Mr. Hadl and Mr. Grossman and others were among the architect
of the whole foreign levy scheme, as they themselves call it, and they are as active today as 19 years ago.”
TO JUDGE HIGHBERGER BEFORE A FAIRNESS HEARING, in chambers,
WRITTEN 4 YEARS AGO:
RICHERT VS. WGA
“In Pro Per”
April 26, 2009
Honorable William F. Highberger
Los Angeles Superior Court,
Central Civil West Department 307
600 Commonwealth Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Dear Judge Highberger,
On this Sunday evening, having read Nick Kurtz’s Friday evening letter to you and the other lawyers, I am writing to assert that I am just as happy as he is to have your help in our case, and I ask, as he does, that you hear my pre-mandatory-mediation statement along with his, as I am acting as a layman, in pro per, and Lead Plaintiff in this class action lawsuit.
Concurrently, Nick Kurtz is my lawyer, so if you read his letter you may surmise the “mess” I find myself in – quoting the careful words of Judge Carl J. West.
Also, Mr. Kurz is misleading in his letter; there are not yet 3 class members in this lawsuit as one of them died 10 months ago, and the replacement has not yet been certified.
WHY THE LEAD PLAINTIFF WRITES SEPARATELY FROM HIS LAWYER, AND IS ACTING IN PRO PER
In my hearing with Judge West on March 23 the Judge called the situation in RICHERGV VS. WGA “a mess” and declared from the bench that it “has a bad look to it.”
Then he told me to “get a lawyer” and “cooperate.”
Soon you shall discover that the “mess” is bigger and nastier than Judge West presently knows, or could know.
When I signed on to this case, I thought did have a lawyer, and that I was cooperating – that is, acting under the mandate I was given as Class Representative, to consider the needs of my class above my own, for there is surely no possible recompense for me personally from the shocking and draining circumstances of the past four years.
I’m a screenwriter and performer, a poet and a song and dance man, not a sharp LA litigator, though I’ve had to learn some of the lingo and routine during the years I’ve been fighting with the officials at the WGA along with my own attorneys.
The WGA has maintained throughout this lawsuit that I am a member “in arrears” of their union. However, It was front page VARIETY in 1995 when I challenged the “special arbitration” the WGA held about my screenplay for THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, and publicly fired the entire WGA.
As part of the cozy relationship among the participants in this case, one of the many participants in that old WGA case, Robert Hadl, is also part of the present case, advising my lawyer Neville Johnson in RICHERT VS. WGA.
Now, why is Robert Hadl advising Neville Johnson in this matter, which is about the guild’s 18 year partial-thefts and embezzlement royalties writers they don’t represent, and even worse, that they sign away almost the whole amount – over 90% -- of this money to studios, who never hired these writers and never paid them, but nonetheless take almost all the money.
Well, Mr. Hadl and Mr. Grossman and others were among the architects of the whole foreign levy scheme, as they themselves call it, and they are as active today as 19 years ago.
The split of American writers foreign royalties among outsiders has been going on profitably and quietly in an arrangement between the collecting societies and the studios since 1965, by my estimation, and virtually none among the writers involved had any idea that major studios were taking 100% -- after the cut of the collecting society – from major American screenwriters and authors.
It did become known to the WGA in 1988, when the Berne Convention made such studio claims illegal internationally, and said the copyrights belonged to the authors, not the studios.
Thus the WGA contacted the studios – or perhaps the other way around – and during the contentious bitter protracted angry WGA strike of 1998 the union began to negotiate a deal with the studios consummated in 1990 with an agreement that gave the studios continuing rights to 92.5% of the money Europe sent to writers both union and especially non-union, for they certainly were not subject to the WGA “collective bargaining agreement.”
At the time the DGA was part of the “agreement” signers as well as the WGA, along with Joel Grossman and Robert Hadl, for the major studios; like I said: these men today advise both sides of this issue, unbelievably. This is truly a legal charade that took notonly from American writers and authors and actors and directors, but from the California Franchise Tax Board and the IRS.
Anyhow, on September 14 2005 I received a telephone call from Neville Johnson asking me if I was a member of the WGA and if I had ever received foreign levy checks from the guild.
I said I fired the Guild in ’95, and didn’t recall ever seeing a foreign levy check.
Neville then recited a series of facts he apparently soon forgot, telling me that the WGA and other unions had signed away the foreign royalties of thousands of non-union American writers for almost 20 years; that they had used the money for themselves, concealed it, and hid the deal they had with the studios. He asked if I would join a class action lawsuit and I said “sign me up.”
He didn’t say he was actually working for he the unions and studios involved, or that after our original complaint was filed with me as the class rep (Champion, said the contract I signed) for non union screenwriters – he would proceed to allow the WGA to defame me as a union scofflaw and non-dues payer, claming as when of their own, when they knew I fired the guild as they referenced my letter to them as “threatening” in a New York lawsuit several years ago.
Even though Judge Margaret Morrow ruled that the unions had no rights to this money under collective bargaining, and that their deal with the studios was unfair to writers and actors, Neville Johnson accepted the secret WGA deal as equitable, and removed the original “agreement” as an issue from Judge West’s considerations.
Without a fight or a protest, Neville Johnson and Nick Kurtz gave legitimacy to the greatest outrage to writers both union and non: 92 percent of hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of European royalties were each day going to major US corporations who had nothing to do with the copyright of the original authors, or any participation in the making of the films.
During the long course of this litigation the WGA lawyers have claimed wrongfully and willfully that I was a member of their union, when they knew I was not and my lawyers knew I was not. That I was a suitable class member for the litigation was true, since I made films both union and non union that were distributed internationally.
During the long course of this litigation the WGA claimed that movies I made like THE HAPPY HOOKER and LAW AND DISORDER and THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK were covered by their MBA when they knew they were not.
Recently I discovered that the WGA had been taking my residuals for years as payment for dues I never owned, since I stopped paying the day I sent the letter dismissing them. They had also been keeping my foreign levies, both unlawful acts.
But the WGA accusations of my being a union dues scofflaw, and their allowing studio usurpation of my copyright ownership to films they knew the studios had no right to, went unchallenged by my lawyers.
Thus I – and the class of writers I have come to represent in the settlement: namely “all American writers...etc.” – that is, if Judge West approves this settlement – all of us involved here – would now loose rights and opportunities and money we had when we started this case, and all to the benefit of the major Hollywood studios in cahoots with WGA/DGA/SAG (the unions who are paying Mr. Johnson’s legal bills.)
Where once the WGA took no percentage for “handling” foreign levies -- back in the 1990’s (they weren’t paying out the money anyhow, actually) -- this settlement will give the WGA 10 percent of the gross along with additional fees – the union earning far more from its members and non-member writers, let’s say, than the agent of a Hollywood movie star earns, and this in addition to the other 92% going to the studios!
Where the WGA was being charged with fraud in 2005, they are now being completely exonerated in this settlement, along with their studio partners, and all under the visible guidance of lawyers like Robert Hadl and Joel Grossman, the signers of the agreements never seen or voted upon by WGA members until this very day.
I stumbled into the love nest between the foreign collecting societies and the studios and the unions four years ago, when I still believed Neville Johnson was working on behalf of the Class the courts eventually agreed upon.
I had no idea Neville Johnson was really working for the WGA/DGA/SAG/UNIVERSAL/FOX/DISNEY/PARAMOUT cabal of hungry feeders on the profits of unknowing (and unwilling, too, if they knew) American screenwriters, authors, novelists, actors and directors.
THE PENNY DROPS ON THE STUDIO/UNION/COLLECTION SOCIETY LEGAL MENAGE A TOIS
Although I had publicly questioned Mr. Johnson’s motives and actions in this case before, even withdrawing in 2006 until Mr. Johnson lured me back, promising “complete transparency”, it wasn’t until Mr. Kurtz’s remark that he’d been fighting four lawyers at the WGA and he – and Neville -- could do no more that Neville’s hollow ducks began falling into various slots of realization, to borrow from a penny arcade.
Firstly, and without offense to anybody, I thought Neville Johnson was handling this very important case himself, not passing it off to his newest law school grad.
Imagine, if I may ask the court such a thing, my chagrin and surprise when I read that the total amount of time Neville Johnson spent reviewing and revision the significant PLAINTIFF’S REPLAY ON MOTION TO REMAND in Judge Morrow’s court was 0.2 hours; Nick Kurtz apparently did all the work, and continues to be the go-to lawyer at Johnson and Johnson to this very day, as shown by his letter to you.
If profit is what you earn relative to capital expenditure, this lawsuit is profitable indeed for Mr. Johnson, but not so for the thousands who will lose if this settlement is enacted, for it gives the studios the rights that the Berne Convention does not.
Judge West, telling me to get a lawyer – yet Mr. Johnson remains, I believe, my lawyer until he is procedurally removed – is like saying to collect the head of the Witch of the West.
If Mr. Johnson’s total bill for the motion to Judge Morrow is $4,872.50, -- including his partners at the time Jim Ryan and Brian Rishwain -- where is the legal passion – as would be shown by minute expenditure – to entice any new lawyer into such a penurious situation? -- Or such a mess.
What lawyer will agree to step in to a “mess” like this without being paid? Who will pay if Mr. Johnson is getting all the fees from the WGA?
A class action lawyer in a large chain store action told me that lawsuits like this can cost millions, and that his lawsuit alone had 13 million documents.
Here there are serious issues involving a large group of American copyright holders over 18 years plus, but only 3 thin depositions taken over four years, along with a settlement that may as well have been written by the WGA lawyers themselves.
Since Mr. Johnson has told me again and again that “nothing is written” in this case – until basically I was presented with the settlement – maybe it WAS the WGA lawyers who wrote the settlement.
Certainly it was WGA lawyer Anthony Segall who paid (not from his own pocket, presumably) roughly $500,000 to silence whistle blower Teri Mial during this litigation, and she is someone who’s declaration of “fraud” has meaning.
But her 9 years of evidence, and the incredibly damning evidence held by Expert Witness Eric Hughes, were carefully and I suspect conspiratorially withheld from this entire litigation, for had it been introduced, the summation of the theft and fraud would surely have led to an outcome far different that that contained in the “Settlement” agreed upon by “all parties.”
As Lead Plaintiff, a job I never asked for, I am, apparently, the only obstacle to their designs.
And by my reading and reckoning of the Class Action act of the 109th Congress, I am entitled to oppose the settlement in my position as Lead Plaintiff, although I am joined in protest by fellow writer Eric Hughes.
Mr. Johnson promised the court and class fair and adversarial representation when he took on this case, but he has yet to provide it, even if Judge West was led to believe he did. The Honorable Judge took at all times the esteemed attorney to be as Honorable as he was.
The WGA couldn’t have done better if it hired him.
As an example among lots of egregious behavior on the part of my lawyers, Mr. Johnson wrote Judge West on June 24 2008 that he had Pearl Retchin and Ann Jamison to take my place as named plaintiffs, but Pearl had died weeks earlier and he knew it and so did the WGA lawyers he copied.
Soon afterward, in July, the WGA lawyers found foreign levy money for Pearl’s heir Maude that they declared “cannot locate” in 1999 for 2 movies that dated back to the 1950s. Thus, unlike Mr. Kurtz’s declaration that Maude received no remuneration to become the new class rep, both he and the WGA had started giving her money months ago, though not to the other class members.
And they located that money almost immediately.
Even more stunning and collaborative, Neville Johnson, Nick Kurtz, Paul Keisel, Emma Leheny and Anthony Segall all appeared in Judge West’s courtroom during a ten month period, and in motion after motion, declared Pear Retchin was present and accounted for, all the while knowing she was dead but never saying anything.
And they convinced Judge West that the money amounts were roughly 80 dollars due members when I just got a foreign levy check for 846.00 for movies the WGA had nothing to do with, dating back 40 years.
Since the amount included deductions already made by the collecting society, the lawful amount should have included that portion the WGA gave with nobody’s permission to the studios, and I would have gotten 8 THOUSAND dollars.
And this group of checks included films never covered by the WGA MBA, and didn’t include money for THE HAPPY HOOKER, for example, which has been a huge seller abroad for many many years, or THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, which the WGA just sent a five hundred dollar check for. And I am not ranked high among those who are owed much, much more.
Further, both groups of lawyers convinced Judge West I was a union member “in arrears,” though I was a paid up member when I fired them publicly 14 years ago and they know it.
Judge West had no reason to know that the lawyers at his bench were not as “good” as he thought.
But most dangerous of all to artists and copyright owners everywhere is that the lawyers have managed to bury the elephant of major studio involvement in taking more than 90% other people’s money, and thus de facto copyright ownership, and this litigation has narrowed the massive involvement down to a dot of invisible fissionable simplicity to allow them to continue this theft, while partaking themselves, like carrion, from the heirs of deceased writers.
It is truly artful and amazing that in all the filings and motions and counter filings, during a four year period -- 2005-2009 -- nobody mentioned that the WGA gave Universal pictures and its “sisters” almost all of its members foreign levy royalty money, along with the money of non-members.
This central issue should not be ignored or forgotten.
In his Friday night letter to you, Nick Kurtz says I want a trial but he knows, because I’ve told him and Neville Johnson and Paul Keisel that a just settlement would be fine by me and, I’m sure, okay by the class of thousands I represent – for I remain a suitable class representative, having a 40 year career with almost equal decades as both a union and a non union writer, actor and director, with works sold abroad earning foreign levies.
I hope Mr. Kurtz letter has not tainted your opinion of me as Lead Plaintiff, or put questions into your thoughts about my efforts as regards this weighty and important matter.
As you may surmise, this has is not been an easy task, when sneaky lawyers for both sides conceal more than they reveal, and make derogatory statements about the Lead Plaintiff when the Plaintiff doesn’t know, and can’t defend himself.
Based on the scant depositions and amount of time Mr. Johnson has billed this case as indicated earlier, one solution might be that Mr. Johnson actually be compelled by the court to complete the task he set himself: namely a just and timely resolution to a major theft and fraud against US copyright owners and actors within the prevue of the court of Judge Carl J. West.
In fact, there is room in the present settlement to achieve some of these goals, if certain paragraphs are excluded and new ones included, starting with a complete accounting breakdown of the inflow and outflow of the 57 million the WGA says it has received, including examination the original checks given to the collecting societies made out US writers, along and any amounts provided to the studios.
This is not an outrageous request, but something that would be done automatically in most other cases.
Lawyer Emma Leheny says that the collection societies never provide the writers names, but this is the responsibility of the guilds, according to the contracts they signed (and almost none are in a foreign language, as she declared.)
If the Guilds cannot connect the writers to the movies, they can get the help of the studios, who provide the movies to Europe to begin with.
Two billion dollars cannot vanish like the tail of a whale in the deep; though I know Hollywood makes its own rules.
Maybe you can compel Mr. Johnson to put in the time needed to truly do the for the thousands of writer’s he’s been casually representing, a job he’s devolved to his most junior colleague.
Or, since Mr. Johnson hasn’t spent much of his own money up till now, maybe the court can convince him to pay a lawyer who will do the job for the writers in the class I represent, now described as “all writers...” – for any named plaintiff can represent the class as a whole, as I interpret what I’ve read – provided the plaintiff is alive.
Any help you can give would be much appreciated.
Cc Nick Kurtz
Class Members Attachments provided
Outside the courthouse, Hadl lectures Segall while in background Jasko arrives with Neville Johnson's forehead behind Tony's shoulder