ICM Settles With Writers

In one of 23 closely watched age discrimination lawsuits filed against talent agencies, studios and production companies, International Creative Management became the first to agree to a settlement with a group of more than 150 television writers who filed suit.

The suits seek class action status for older writers, who allege the companies systematically refuse to hire writers older than 40 for dramas and sitcoms, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The ICM settlement is significant, according to the paper, in that it could persuade other defendants to end the costly litigation.

“The settlement agreement with ICM provides these talented television writers with a fair resolution to their claims,” the writers’ attorney, Steve Sprenger, told the Times. “However, we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Among the reported terms of the tentative agreement are establishment of a $4.5 million settlement fund eligible writers could make claims against and an independent task force to examine representation practices. A job relief program is included, pending sanction by the Los Angeles Superior Court hearing the case.

“This doesn’t in any way mitigate the damages, psychologically and professionally, that I’ve suffered, but it’s a start,” plaintiff Larry Mintz told the Times.

A group of 27 screenwriters fired the first shot in the battle by filing a class action suit in federal court in 2000. However, the case was moved to L.A. Superior Court when the judge ruled the plaintiffs couldn’t pursue some of the claims at the federal level.

The writers changed their legal strategy and instead filed separate claims against the individual companies.