'Happy Days' lawsuit: Fraud claim thrown out by judge

Back in April, members of the cast of Happy Days, including Marion Ross, Erin Moran, Don Most, Anson Williams, and the estate of the late Tom Bosley, filed a lawsuit against CBS, claiming that the network violated breach of contract and owed them for merchandising revenues that they had been cut out of. The $10 million suit claimed the stars of the sitcom “were guaranteed five percent of royalties profits if their images appeared on a product.”

CNN.com reported yesterday that the fraud claim was thrown out by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White, who ruled in favor of CBS. According to the court ruling, “The exact details of this alleged promise to provide periodic revenue statements when merchandising revenue had been generated have not been plead with the requisite level of specificity required.” A spokesperson for the CBS Consumer Products Division said in a statement, “We are thrilled that the court has thrown out all claims for punitive damages and significantly narrowed this to a case of contract interpretation.”

While the Happy Days stars involved in the lawsuit reportedly “cannot receive punitive damages at the trial, which is scheduled for June 26, 2012,” Jon Pfeiffer, an attorney for the actors, told CNN, “We intend to press forward with the lawsuit. If we can’t punish the defendants, we certainly intend to expose their practices.”

Read more:
‘Happy Days’ cast sues CBS over royalties

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  • Hombre

    You notice Ron Howard was not a part of this. Only the LOSERS who have done nothing since Happy Days. Get a life!!!

    • theo

      Nor The Fonz. Guess the rest of ‘em just need to sit on it.

  • DrinkMuch?

    I guess Erin will have to stick to drinking boxed wine for a bit longer. Must be killing her that her only claim to fame anymore is having her name appear in crossword puzzles.

    • Bebe

      Why the hate for Erin? What has she done to you?

  • Chuck Rice

    If I remember Correctly wasn’t Happy Days on ABC instead of CBS?

    • shelly

      yes it was..it made abc #1 for many years..however paramount which produced the show was bought out by cbs..therefore the suit against the producers which is now cbs

  • o0

    Everybodys gotta love Potsie and his get rich quick wacky ideas. Oh Potsie who did you drag in on the hijinks this time? ha ha.

  • JDF

    Dang! Look at all the CBS interns posting comments here on EW!!

    I’m cheering on these guys hoping they get every penny that they originally should have from those crooks at CBS…

  • shelly

    ron howard and the fonz have too much money..notice spike the drummer and chachi are left out again..i had a happy days lunch box and i was made fun of..i was 26 at the time

    • mick

      The reason Ron or Henry isn’t named is because they had seperate contracts since they were the stars that specifically granted them a license fee.

      • Rasheed

        THANK YOU mick

    • Joelseph

      My guess is that Henry Winkler or Ron Howard get their check regular due still being active in show business. Or, their likeness is primary in all Happy Days materials and they’ve made sure to keep the stars happy. That, or CBS

  • tomm

    The Brady kids got Zero for all the reruns and stuff, and they don’t sue.

    • Bebe

      Isn’t that amazing? They could have all made a fortune if the rules about royalties that apply today were in place back then.

  • Agent Smith

    The ruling does not absolve CBS of error. Merely of intentional wrongdoing. The difference is between whether they did it or purpose or were simply sloppy.

    Hollywood, according to JM Straczynski, plays a lot of accounting games to ensure that shows generate no net profit. This is how they get around paying people who have a percentage of the net. That’s why the actors with real power ask for and receive a percentage of the gross – it’s much, much harder for the studios to play games with that. Given that level of ethics, it’s not at all hard to believe that CBS got sloppy (whether intentionally or not) paying people.

    The nature of a large organization, like a corporation, is that the least ethical individuals rise to the top echelons of leadership. This is because they have the same tools as the ethical people, plus their own extra set of unethical tools. They succeed just oftener enough that by the time you reach the highest levels, it’s mostly rats. Exceptions are possible, but they are rare.

  • Albert

    But ABC telecast “Happy Days”, not CBS. (????)

    • Herb Finn

      The Shoe was Produced by Paramount Television, which is now owned by CBS., and is CBS Television Studios.

  • amy

    Sorry to hear they aren’t going to get what they SO deserve! They must’ve had really bad agents! I have fond memories of Happy Days!

    • MA in LA

      It has nothing to do with bad agents. It’s the studio’s creative accounting – business as usual for them. They have a legitimate complaint and I hope they get their just rewards.

  • dave

    I studied under Judge White. The lady is a horrible teacher,rude, and arrogant. I was of the opinion then and now that she will always favor employers and agencies. Their atttorney should have checked the Judge’s background then they would have known they didn’t have a chance. The actors got screwed again.

  • dave

    The “Happy Days” contracts, for example, contained broad language, giving the actors a right to royalties whenever the studio uses their name, voice or likeness “in connection with” the sale of merchandise.
    A similar case is Actor Zack Ward, who played Scut Farkus in the 1983 film, has sued Warner Bros for using his image in toy action figures without his permission.his original contract which did not include a standard provision that would give the production company the right to use the actor’s image in merchandise related to the film.

    What many people don’t understand is that studios make millions off merchandising of popular shows and movies. They use the faces of Actors and Actresses to promote and sell a tv show or movie’s products. The actor’s and actresses are entitled to a percentage because it is their likeness.

  • Steve

    Why are they suing CBS when the show was on ABC?

    • Rubyredjewel

      The company that owns the show ,Paramount, is now owned by CBS.

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