HADESTOWN Producers Fire Back at Moore; Another PARADISE SQUARE Suit Hits

HADESTOWN producers have filed a motion to dismiss the complaint by a former cast member that alleges racial discrimination and retaliation.

By: Sep. 05, 2023
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HADESTOWN Producers Fire Back at Moore; Another PARADISE SQUARE Suit Hits

In recent years, the number of theater-related lawsuits has shot up. I’m going to give you updates on a couple of cases.

Hadestown Producers Fire Back at Kim Moore

The producers of Hadestown have moved to dismiss the complaint of former cast member Kim Moore, who filed a complaint in federal court alleging race discrimination and retaliation. When deciding on a motion to dismiss, the Court looks at the complaint most favorably to the plaintiff (Moore) and basically decides whether, as a matter of law, the complaint states a cause of action in light of the issues raised in the motion to dismiss. Because it’s decided “as a matter of law,” it’s not generally about disputing facts. So discrimination cases are harder to get thrown out on a motion to dismiss than, let’s say, lease disputes, because discrimination cases often turn on facts, whereas lease disputes often turn on contract interpretation. But there are exceptions, especially when documentary evidence negates causes of action or necessitates arbitration instead of a public court case.

Hadestown’s motion to dismiss calls Moore’s lawsuit “an unconstitutional vehicle to complain about the casting decisions made at Hadestown.” It does not deal with all of Moore’s allegations regarding emails/statements head-on—and, again, motions to dismiss are not generally the time to do that—but it does deal with her allegation that David Neumann sent emails apologizing for having the ensemble tell a “white savior” story. The motion admits that and even attaches the two emails from him for context.

The motion to dismiss has three main arguments: Moore’s claims are barred by the First Amendment; Moore has failed to state a claim; and Moore was required under the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Actors’ Equity and the Broadway League to seek arbitration. The first argument basically is that casting decisions are artistic choices and, therefore, constitutionally protected creative expression. The second argument is primarily based in legal argument that I won’t detail, but one factual thing is interesting: Moore’s complaint discussed being retaliated against because of her criticism of Neumann’s first email, which was sent November 23, 2021. However, the motion to dismiss attaches an email sent to Moore’s agent on October 8 indicating that her contract, which was expiring on December 5, would not be renewed. That email predates the Neumann email, all other comments specified in the complaint, and also November 27, the date the Complaint alleged company management “indicated to Moore that Defendants would be moving in a ‘different direction’ and would be terminating her employment in the near future.” The third argument is straightforward and the easiest way for the Court to kick the case if it agrees with the defense’s contractual interpretation: the argument is simply that the Collective Bargaining Agreement applies and necessitates this case be brought in arbitration.

Unless a settlement is reached or Moore voluntarily dismisses the case for other reasons, the next step will be for Moore’s attorneys to oppose this motion, then there will be a reply, and ultimately a decision (which is probably when I’ll next write about this).

The Garth Drabinsky Legal Drama Mounts

When a production leads to more lawsuits than you can count on one hand, it’s truly something. And this is the case with Paradise Square. We’ve all read about the unions who have sought payment from the Paradise Square producing entities (a confession of judgment of money owed to  United Scenic Artists—just one of those unions—was only recently filed)but few know that well-known theater services company PRG is also seeking its due. A summons was filed in New York state court earlier this year alleging damages in excess of $971,000 because of an alleged breach of an agreement to pay PRG lighting equipment rental costs. The complaint also alleges fraud on Ballybeg II LLC, which is a PRG-affiliated entity. The interesting thing about this particular lawsuit is that PRG head Jere Harris was also a credited Paradise Square producer. While the full complaint isn’t publicly available, I suspect therein lies the fraud.

Industry Trends Weekly is a short column that runs in the weekly Industry Pro Newsletter. You can read past columns and subscribe here. If you have an idea for the column, you can reach the author at cara@broadwayworld.com.


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