Judge Dismisses Garth Drabinsky 'Do Not Work List' Lawsuit

A federal court has dismissed Drabinsky's lawsuit against Actors' Equity Association.

By: Apr. 14, 2023

Judge Dismisses Garth Drabinsky 'Do Not Work List' Lawsuit

Remember Garth Drabinsky's case against Actors' Equity Association? It is now no more. Equity has won its motion to dismiss the complaint filed by Drabinsky.

Remember that, after facing a slew of suits by different unions over unpaid PARADISE SQUARE fees, Drabinsky struck back, suing Equity in federal court for defamation and related claims. In December, he filed an amended complaint, adding antitrust claims. Equity filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted today in its entirety. Basically, this means that the Court held, as a matter of law, even if every single thing Drabinsky alleged in the complaint was true, Drabinsky still did not plead a sufficient case.

First, with regard to the state tort claims brought against Equity--for defamation, intentional tort and negligence-the Court ruled each was barred by a Court of Appeals decision that made it extremely difficult to allege such lawsuits against unincorporated associations. To put it simply, the Court stated that this precedent required the complaint to "sufficiently allege authorization and ratification" of Equity's actions by each of Equity's "50,000 plus members." The Court held Drabinsky's complaint fell short of this standard.

Second, the Court did not buy the later-added antitrust claims. As detailed in a prior column, there are statutory exemptions related to labor organizations and also strong case law that holds that as long as a union essentially stays in its lane, it won't be held liable for antitrust violations. Drabinsky argued that the exemption did not apply because Equity was not acting within its self-interest. However, the court found the statutory exemptions applied and went through one-by-one knocking down Drabinsky's arguments to the contrary. The Court stated: "Based on the allegations in the FAC, AEA acted in its self-interest by barring its members from working for a producer who had defaulted on his obligations to the union, and AEA did so without combining with non-labor entities."

Drabinsky is free to appeal, but, for right now, this one is done. There remain open lawsuits against Drabinsky and the PARADISE SQUARE producing entity, including one brought by Equity.