Disgraced actor Kevin Spacey has been ordered to pay $31 million (over €30 million) to Media Rights Capital (MRC), the independent production company behind the hit Netflix series House of Cards.
The award made against Spacey is intended to recoup the losses made by the company after they fired him from the show in 2017 when another actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Spacey had made sexual advances toward him in 1986 when he was only 14.
Prior to 2017, Spacey had played the lead character of Frank Underwood in House of Cards for five seasons.
His removal from the show forced MRC to have to rewrite the sixth season to feature Spacey’s co-star Robin Wright as the lead character and reduce it from 13 to eight episodes, resulting in the massive loss of revenue.
In January 2019, MRC filed a lawsuit claiming that Spacey’s behaviour had violated anti-harassment policies clearly laid out in his contract with the production company, forcing them to terminate his contract.
The complaint detailed how the actor had been “systematically preying upon, sexually harassing, and groping young men that he had worked with throughout his career on film, television, and theatre projects”.
Spacey’s attorneys challenged the suit, claiming that his firing had come before the crew members’ allegations against him, meaning he was not responsible for the losses as there had been no breach of contract.
In November 2021, following a prolonged review period, the arbitrator found in favour of MRC supporting the claim that Spacey had been in breach of his contract, citing that he had failed to provide services “in a professional manner… consistent with [MRC’s] reasonable directions, practices and policies”.
Yesterday’s decision by Los Angeles Superior Court judge Mel Recana to uphold the arbitration ruling will see Spacey being forced to pay the $31 million in damages to the House of Cards studio.
In her judgement, the Los Angeles Superior Court judge said, “Respondents fail to demonstrate that this is even a close case. Respondents do not demonstrate that the damages award was so utterly irrational that it amounts to an arbitrary remaking of the parties’ contracts.”
She continued, “Respondents do not show that the arbitrator acted beyond his authority under the scope of the parties’ arbitration agreements.”
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