A California Superior Court judge kicked Sheen’s $100 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre, the studio and executive producer of “Two and a Half Men,” back to arbitration. Sheen, who filed the suit after he was fired from the show in March, had been resisting arbitration as a means to settle with the studio and Lorre even though his contract contains a clause stipulating that an arbitrator be used to resolve contract disputes.
Judge Allan Goodman, who heard arguments from both sides earlier this spring, ruled that the arbitration clause is valid. The arbitration process, which had started, but then was put on hold until the judge’s ruling, will now resume.
Warner Bros. said it was very pleased by the decision, and Lorre’s lawyer Howard Weitzman said the court made the appropriate ruling.
Sheen’s $100 million suit also sought punitive damages. According to the suit filed 3/10, the cancellation of the last eight episodes of the hit CBS series for this season was not due to Sheen’s behavior, but rather an effort by Lorre “to take money away from the dedicated cast and crew” of the series “in order to serve his own ego and self-interest, and make the star of the Series the scapegoat for Lorre’s own conduct.”
The lawsuit claims that Sheen and the rest of the cast and crew made billions of dollars for Warner Bros. and Lorre, but that Lorre decided to punish Sheen because the actor criticized him for not writing the scripts to complete the season. “Because of his financial leverage with Warner Bros. and CBS by having two other profitable series with them, Lorre convinced Warner Bros. to conspire with him and attribute the suspension of the Series and termination of Mr. Sheen’s contract on Mr. Sheen’s alleged statements, conduct and condition, despite the fact that Mr. sheen is in compliance with his contract and ready, willing and able to proceed,” the suit claimed.
The LA Times report Sheen’s camp argued it still has a chance to square off against Warner Bros. and Lorre in court. The actor’s lawyer, Martin Singer of Lavely & Singer, said the ruling just means it is up to the arbitrator to decide whether this will go to court or not. He also accused Warner Bros. of delaying the matter because “they know they are going to have to pay millions of dollars to my client.”
In the ruling, Goodman wrote that “arbitrability of the matters indicated, together with any defenses, is properly determined by the arbitrator.” Singer will try to make the case to the arbitrator that this is a matter for the courts.
Warner Bros. fired Sheen, who had been getting a salary of $1.2 million per episode, from “Two and a Half Men” in March, saying he had become unable to perform with any reliability. Sheen has had numerous battles with substance abuse as well as run-ins with the law and accusations of being violent with women. Sheen’s lifestyle had led to the show being shut down while he dealt with personal issues.
In May, Warner Bros. hired Ashton Kutcher to fill the void Sheen’s exit left.