Legal Roundup: Disney’s Alleged Wage Disparity, 50 Cent’s Appeal Denial, Twitter’s Latest Breach of Contract Suit

The latest legal happenings likely to have an impact on the risk management and insurance field today.
By: | July 26, 2023

Did Disney Underpay Female Middle Managers by $151 Million?

The Case: In 2019, Disney employee LaRonda Rasmussen filed suit in Los Angeles superior court, alleging that the company pays female employees less than their male peers.

The filing claims that “Disney paid female middle managers at least $151 million less than their male counterparts with similar experience and skill sets over nearly a decade,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “The estimate — which was described in the filing as conservative — was made by an expert hired by Rasmussen’s legal team based on documents Disney provided during the discovery process.”

Disney argues that an internal review conducted in 2022 found that women were paid 99.4% of men’s earnings.

Scorecard: Plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for the more than 10,000 women employed by Disney from 2015 to the present. A class action “would allow claims to be adjudicated by a single jury, should the case go to trial, and would likely result in the plaintiffs’ lawyers adding additional claims to the case,” according to the WSJ.

Takeaway: The case underscores the importance of pay equity within organizations. The alleged pay gap at a high-profile company like Disney could have serious legal and reputational consequences. Risk managers should ensure their organizations conduct regular pay audits to uncover any potential wage disparities and rectify them promptly.

Denied: 50 Cent’s $32 Million Appeal Against Ex-lawyers

The Case: Curtis Jackson, better known as rapper 50 Cent, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2015, just three days after an adverse legal judgment in a sex tape case. At the time, Jackson claimed debts of nearly $32.5 million.

Reed Smith, the firm that represented Jackson, filed to recover fees of about $600,000. Jackson countersued, claiming legal malpractice, and sought “$7 million in actual damages and $25 million in punitive damages,” according to Reuters.

“U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ann Nevins dismissed Jackson’s claims in a pair of decisions in March 2019 and June 2021,” the news outlet reported.

Jackson appealed the case in Connecticut district court.

Scorecard: U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant has dismissed Jackson’s claims of legal malpractice. Bryant noted that Jackson did not elaborate on how the alleged conflict of interest affected the trial outcome.

Reed Smith’s claim for unpaid attorney fees of over $609,000, originally made during Jackson’s bankruptcy proceedings, was reduced to $429,000 by Judge Nevins.

Takeaway: This case provides insight into the complexities and potential conflicts of interest in legal representation, particularly in high-profile cases involving celebrities. For legal professionals, it serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining clarity, thoroughness and objectivity throughout representation.

Twitter’s Unpaid Bills Lead to $665,000 Contract Breach Suit

The Case: Following Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion in 2022, Australian firm Facilitate claimed that the social media platform failed to pay invoices for work completed in four countries.

The project management firm had been tasked with installing sensors “in Twitter’s offices in London and Dublin, completed an office fit-out in Singapore and cleared an office in Sydney,” according to Reuters.

Facilitate filed a breach of contract claim in Northern California district court for cumulative payments of about AUD$1 million, or USD$665,000.

Scorecard: The case has just been filed and has not yet reached a resolution.

Takeaway: At least 10 vendors have initiated legal proceedings against Twitter, seeking payment for accumulated debts to the tune of $10 million, since Elon Musk purchased the social media platform. The accusations suggest that Twitter is facing challenges managing its finances and fulfilling its contractual obligations post-acquisition. &

Jared Shelly is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected].

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