Managers Seek Talent Act Review

California’s Talent Agencies Act could soon receive an examination by the state’s Supreme Court in connection with a malpractice case that questioned whether courts have the authority to penalize managers that procure jobs for their clients.

California is the only state with a law that disallows a manager from doing an agent’s job, and the law is often considered burdensome; the jobs of managers and agents can overlap, and sometimes managers get acts gigs that are not financially worth an agent’s time.

Hundreds of management firms and two professional management organizations recently sent letters urging the California Supreme Court to review the case, which was filed by Marathon Entertainment President Rick Siegel against a law firm that represented his company in three breach-of contract actions with clients.

In the case, Siegel claimed that firm Fox & Spillane had committed malpractice by failing to argue in court that the legislative history of the TAA demonstrated the act did not apply to personal managers. The California Legislature removed a criminal penalty from the Act in 1982 and Siegel argued in court that “in removing the TAA’s penalty statute, the Legislature legalized unlicensed procurement.”

Siegel petitioned the state Supreme Court last month after an appellate panel questioned the merit of his malpractice claim and noted the TAA “defines conduct, and hence contractual arrangements, that are illegal: An unlicensed talent agency may not contract with talent to provide procurement services.”

Moreover, “the fact that the Legislature elected to remove criminal liability for violations of the TAA simply means that neither the Labor Commission nor the courts may impose criminal penalties for violations of the TAA,” the panel wrote.
But Siegel’s cause has a fan in the National Conference of Personal Managers, which showed its support for judicial review of the TAA in a statement.

The courts “have erroneously applied the TAA to personal managers in an unfair and disproportionate fashion,” NCOPM President Clinton Ford Billups Jr. wrote. “It has resulted in forfeitures of fairly earned contractual fees legitimately earned in commercial commerce. The TAA does not, by its own terms, or in accordance with appropriate standards of statutory construction, apply to personal managers.

“NCOPM will continue to support Rick and all personal managers in their efforts to invalidate California’s discriminatory TAA.”