Lisa Kudrow has learned the hard way that friends should not sue ex friends because they might just lose and that is what the actress did; lose. She now owes her former friend and manager Scott Howard a huge settlement amount. $1.6 million in commissions not paid. The 50 year-old actress lost out to a jury who felt Kudrow had acted inappropriately in her dealings with her former manager.
One lesson learned from this lawsuit is that the old Goldwynism “A verbal contract is not worth the paper it’s written on” is no longer true. The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Kudrow actually fired her manager back in 2007. When Lisa took the stand in the courtroom last week, she stated that she did not owe Howard a five percent commission of her Friends residuals. She said that she had a verbal agreement with her former manager that stipulated he would only get a commission on the first set of residuals.
Unfortunately for the Friends star Scott brought his own “expert” to testify on his behalf that managers get commissions on residuals for any job taken on while under the management of that particular firm, in other words in perpetuity. This lawsuit has taken years to settle and it may not be over yet. Even though Lisa Kudrow learned that friends do not sue ex friends as they can end up losing, her lawyer has said that this is not the end. Kudrow’s legal team will be appealing this latest decision.
This lawsuit was filed in 2008 after Kudrow fired Howard in 2007. The basis of the legal action taken against the Friends actress was based on a verbal, or oral, agreement made in 1991. The agreement was made based on Kudrow’s initial salary on the long running and popular comedy which started at $13,500 per episode which ultimately reached $1.04 million per show in the last season. The star of Web Therapy argued originally that Howard had already earned millions from her earnings before she fired him and that he was not entitled to any further commissions.
Kudrow’s lawyer, Gerald Sauer, said that this overturning of Lisa’s first victory in court was just another step in the legal proceedings and that his client will appeal the decision. He also said that the Friends star believes that, ultimately, she will win this contractual disagreement. Originally the legal system ruled in her favor, but the Appeals Court of California overturned her win which allowed Howard to again face his former client in court.
Her residual payments from the popular television show, which has gone into syndication, continue to be paid. This fact allowed Scott Howard to pick up an additional $1.6 million over his initial $11 million profit earned while acting as Kudrow’s manager. The actress is currently working on the ABC television program Scandal. While Kudrow’s lawyer agrees with his client that they will eventually overturn this latest decision, Howard’s attorney, Mark Baute, has said that the verdict was “rock solid” and that his client will be earning interest on this latest award over the two years it will take for the Court of Appeal either to confirm or overturn Howard’s win.
Lisa Kudrow has learned that not only is an oral contract binding, but she found out that friends do not sue friends as they could lose, which is what happened after a Californian Appeal Court overturned her earlier victory. The lesson from this verdict is that verbal contracts do count, especially if made with an entertainment manager.
By Michael Smith