TO:  NEVILLE JOHNSON, NICK KURTZ, PAUL R. KIESEL

 

WITH COPY TO HONORABLE JUDGE WEST

LA SUPERIOR COURT

 

CC JF LAWTON et. al.

 

FR:  WILLIAM RICHERT

CLASS REP FOR ALL AMERICAN WRITERS SELLING ABROAD  BOTH LIVING AND DEAD

 

MARCH 9, 2009

 

RE:  LEAD PLAINTIFF CANNOT ACCEPT ‘GIFTS’ FROM CLASS ACTION ATTORNEY

 

RE:  LEAD PLAINTIFF PROTESTS LACK OF ATTORNEY’S DISCLOSURE UPON DEATH OF CO-PLAINTIFF

 

RE:  LEAD PLAINTIFF REQUESTS CONTINUANCE UNTIL NEW QUALIFIED REPLACEMENT FOR BOTH NON-UNION AND UNION WRITERS IS MADE, TO AVOID MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

 

WRITERS CANNOT BE DISMISSED COMPLETELY FROM THEIR OWN LAWSUIT

 

Dear Neville and Nick and Paul,

 

I vigorously protest the manner in which you described my request to have my name removed from this case in your APPLICATION FOR DISMISSAL OF WILLIAM RICHERT AND AMENDMENT OF CASE TITLE AND CAPTION.

 

I further object to words like “dismissal” when used in connection with my stated request to be relieved as Lead Plaintiff because of a bad deal.

 

By stating in paragraph 3 that "Plaintiff William Richert no longer wishes to be class representative and wishes that the case name and caption no longer include his name" without also stating that the Plaintiff withdraws because he was ignored the entire time, or including the statement I made in court that "I would never ever settle this because it is wrong" or my declaration that I want my name off because the case mis-represents my position, you make it look like I am leaving on a whim or giving up my post of 4 years, instead of accurate language saying I was withdrawing because I was forced out de facto, by virtue of being ignored for years and then and by your motion to remove yourself as my attorney of record  in a joint statement with Tony Segall of the WGA in ‘CLASS COUNSEL’S MOTION TO BE RELIEVED” – all the while  still leaving my name on the case, like I agreed to a word of it -- a double whammy I am attempting to forestall.

 

I did not request to be paid any money from you or anyone else as a "gift."  Such a word in this connection offends me.

 

It would be unethical for me to accept any kind of “gift” in return for taking my name off this case, and that is what this implies.

 

I requested money for work I originally undertook not knowing any “award” existed for me or anybody else outside the “reward” of justice.

 

I began in 2005 believing I was part of a quest for justice, not a money-making deal for lawyers for the WGA and studios they partner with, as I told the Judge last month. 

 

Finally seeing the case was going to make enrich you and allow the WGA total forgiveness – and even increasing union official’s rewards in increased percentages and fees -- after being accused in long depositions of shredding documents and checks intended for WGA members and non members.

 

4 years ago the WGA admitted having 20 million of writers money, money the held for both members and non members, and now they want 3 years more.

 

I went to court on January 15 2009 and told Judge West that I did not want to feel like a fool and a jerk by refusing payments due to me because of my months and years of hard work as Lead Plaintiff because I was ignored and I couldn’t rightfully stay on the case.  I asked for no more than I would have gotten had I remained in my position, for I did the best I could, though I admitted I had failed in preventing this agreement.

 

Any amount of money I derive from my participation in RICHERT VS. WGA, small or large, is rightfully mine to begin with, whether it comes out of your fees and charges or as an advance from money the WGA has been holding onto for decades from:  THE HAPPY HOOKER, LAW AND DISORDER, WINTER KILLS, THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, and A NIGHT IN THE LIFE OF JIMMY REARDON – for example.

 

Judge Morrow in Federal court says that the WGA and studios took these funds illegally.

 

You yourselves told me in 2005 the WGA was guilty of FRAUD and CONVERSION in amounts up to 100 million.  Other estimates reach 500million plus.

 

Two Judges and bunches of lawyers have already stated that the case was complex and hard to comprehend, even to the most knowledgeable. I went through a lot of mental gymnastics and difficult legal studies as Lead Plaintiff on this case, and still I don’t pretend to understand what it all entails, just how it smells. 

 

That’s how schemes like this work, of course.  Nobody can figure them out.  Looks like Madoff will get a deal with justice just for helping them figure out what he did.

 

Believe me, no money I get from you or anybody else in his case is a “gift” and any language referring to any amount paid to any “Dismissal and me” from the court should be required to name the valid reasons for payment or for dismissal as in any other lawsuit.

 

We know what it means when a politician in a public trust accepts a large “gift.”  What does it mean when a class action litigant with a similar trust does the same?

 

The tens of thousands of American writers in Subclass 3 must not remotely be given any impression that their Lead Plaintiff has been bribed or paid off to leave the case or that he accepted any kind of "gift".  

 

For you to choose the word “gift” as a term for payment from the class attorney to Lead Plaintiff in connection with my quitting this lawsuit is a kind of defamation, as I see it.  

 

No Lead Plaintiff should leave a class action lawsuit involving millions of dollars under a cloud. – Or, in my case, with such an insult.

 

I am asking for a rightful sum from someone who intend to profit lavishly off the exploitive use of my name to enact a shameful settlement I would never agree to and that's pretty much what I said in court.  

 

The proposed order I received last Friday (today is Monday) does not reflect the spirit or substance of the agreement I made with Mr. Johnson or with the court.

 

Considering the way Johnson and Johnson used my name and made representations for Subclass 3 all these years without my consent and over all my protests, right up until this very March 9, 2009 day, I really ought to be given most of the money Neville Johnson gets for my days and nights of writing, and for being bait-and-switched, with the rest being divided among members of Subclass 3 who are otherwise likely to see very little of what is actually owed them from this settlement – as it is written. 

 

In his application for my “dismissal”  Mr. Kurtz wrote that I wouldn’t accept a settlement. I never said I wouldn’t accept a settlement.  It is THE SETTLEMENT AS WRITTEN I would not accept, as I declared in writing two years ago, and the terms have hardly changed since then.

 

Offering only “selected” facts about my wanting to no longer be a class rep. are misleading.

 

Please supply me with a transcript of what happened in court so that the record can be clear. 

 

Didn’t Judge West say I could remove myself “with prejudice” or something?

 

THE REPLACEMENT WRITER IS NOT HERE, AND NOBODY SEEMS TO WANT ONE ANYHOW EXCEPT THE LEAD PLAINTIFF AND HIS CLASS

 

I asked to be removed as Lead Plaintiff with the understanding that another writer would replace me. 

 

Judge West himself said that I needed to be replaced with another writer in the first court appearance.

 

But that is not happening now.  And the settlement is apparently all but approved without any writer whatsoever.  In a lawsuit all about writers.

 

This is not what I understood Just West to say.

 

It is my view, after all I have learned from this long long ordeal, that it might even be better and fairer for writers of all descriptions that this settlement be totally re-written or the whole case started over with younger widows (and writers) along with real non union writers, not carefully-picked ones.

 

That 4 years have gone by, with practically no investigations or discoveries, suggest to me that a stone wall/stonewall has been erected around all the matters in concern here.

 

Neville Johnson and Paul Keisel have claimed they will breach this wall on behalf of writers and artists.  In fact they have helped build it.

 

HOW MANY OTHER WIDOWS WILL DIE WITHOUT SHARING THEIR HUSBANDS JUST REWARD

 

Pearl Retchin was Plaintiff for Widows, as I understand it. 

 

She was a Plaintiff like me in this lawsuit, but she’s no longer here to protest it.

 

How many other widows, I wonder, have died in the past 4 years, never getting the benefits of their husband’s estates, prevented by the obfuscations, delays, whistle-blower payouts and plain old lies of the WGA. 

 

Has the WGA kept this lawsuit going to collect more cash from the widows’ checks before settling?

 

How can you replace a widow with one of her children and not replace the Lead Plaintiff representing thousands?

 

Seems a little selective to me.

 

Judge West said he needed a writer to replace me if I were to leave and there is none. 

 

It seems that there must be some kind of a law that would even prevent a person from withdrawing from a lawsuit if it means there is no longer a Plaintiff.

 

If Pearl Retchin has a named replacement, why is there no replacement for me in the papers submitted to the Judge about my dismissal? 

 

Have all the writers owed money by the WGA suddenly been “disappeared” with the removal of my name? 

 

I recall Neville Johnson asking the opponent WGA lawyer to supply a new writer for the case – a courtroom conversation that appalled me.  Emma Leheny said she would supply a guild writer for the case, but apparently still has not.

 

This resembles Venezuelan politics, not a righteous case against a corrupt union, and make no mistake.

 

Again and again you – Neville Johnson – have agreed with me that the union is corrupt “to its eyebrows,” as the whistle blower said.

 

Now you continue the subterfuge in the APPLICATION FOR APPROVAL OF DISMISAL OF WILLIAM RICHERT AND (2) SUBSTITUION OF MADE RETCHIN FEIL FOR PEARL RETCHIN AND (3) AMENDMENT OF CASE TITLE AND CAPTION.

 

 

I am disturbed that you concealed the information about the death of one of the 3 lead plaintiffs in this case, since this leaves only a two legged stool, so to speak, to support the vast number of writers injured or stolen from by the WGA.

 

I am not the sort of person who would abandon past and future writers to those who would sell them out.  I am the sort of person who’d scream bloody murder at this prospect, and leave the stage in protest.

 

But I can’t leave the show without a performer on the stage. 

 

You and Nick Kurt and Paul Keisel are not proper representatives for the thousands of present writers and hundreds of thousands of future writers who’ll be affected forever if this settlement goes through as written.

 

On March 23 I will ask Judge West to reconsider allowing me to withdraws Class Rep until a genuine writer with credits and foreign levies owed to him/her can replace me and adequately and responsibly represent Subclass 3.

 

I do not believe that the Judge should leave so many thousands, and future thousands of writers and artists with a settlement that  will, in effect, bind future generations of writers to union and studio contracts they never signed and never saw.

 

Instead of paying out old levies, the unions/studios are levying writers’ foreign earnings anew, and for all time.

 

You don’t need to be the screenwriter of WINTER KILLS to speculate what unioins will do with the ID’s and tax info of all American writers.

 

In his declaration Mr. Kurtz says “Justice required Plaintiffs the opportunity to dismiss Mr. Richert, substitute Ms. Feil for Ms. Retchin, and change the case name and caption to reflect these changes.

 

DID JUSTICE REQUIRE THE DISMISSAL OF WILLIAM RICHERT? 

 

DECLRATION OF NICHOLAS KURTZ:

 

Ms. Retchin is dead more than six months, I discover from the documents sent 3 days ago.

 

I believe this information was withheld deliberately, because it would certainly have changed my view of my role in this case, and would have changed some of the things I told Judge West.

 

The document says her daughters replace Pearl. 

 

But it is the 85 year widow who was the true heir to her husbands fortunes.  Though I’m not sure how much of an activist she could have been in protecting her rights, I’m sure she didn’t think she’d die before seeing justice.

 

In addition just finding out that my fellow lead plaintiff died six months ago, and you decided to substitute her children for her self without informant the other plaintiffs, I only found out in recent court papers that you conducted 5 (five) days of mediation with Joel Grossman, a former studio executive I objected to and who should not have been allowed to continue as sole Mediator under circumstances wherein the Lead Plaintiff disputes his credentials.

 

Just as doctors can be prosecuted for assisting suicides, I believe you are guilty of allowing me kill off my role as plaintiff in front of the Judge and the courtroom without keeping me informed of all developments in the case, thereby creating possible harm for those I represent.

 

If I am not replaced with an authentic writer, one who has produced both union and non union screenplays sold abroad during the period the WGA took money, then I do not believe I should be replaced at all.

 

By mis-characterizing my appearance in court, by suggesting I am taking “gifts” – which are considered tantamount to  “bribes” in political scandals --  you have abrogated the substance of my protest and the true meaning of withdrawal,  and you have attempted to memorialize for all time for all writers the opposite of my intentions and declarations.

 

I do not believe “justice” will be served until another writer who fits the case as I do replaces me.

 

If by removing myself as Lead Plaintiff in protest I have paradoxically allowed this settlement to rush to law unhindered, with no protector or advocate for writers, they my actions are truly without merit and have to be cast aside.

 

I cannot allow myself to be “dismissed” under such circumstances.

 

I cannot accept “gifts,” either.  Payment for 4 years of faithful class service, yes; money due me from the WGA for decades, yes; gifts, no.

 

Although Mr. Johnson has concluded otherwise, it is my duty as Class Champion to place the baton in the hands of the next runner.

 

Awaiting such a moment I remain,

 

 

William Richert

LEAD PLAINTIFF, RICHERT VS. WGA

PS:

In reviewing the settlement document before sending this letter I re-read the following statement:  THE SETTLING PARTIES STIPULATE TO CERTIFICATION OF THE FOLLOIWNG SETTLEMENT CLASS:  ALL WRITERS, INCLUDIJG MEMBERS OF THE WGAW AND NON-MEMBERS, WHOSE WORKS, WETHER OR NOT WRITTEN UNDER ANY WGAW COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT, EARNED FOREIGN LEVY FUNDS THAT WERE PAID TO THE WGAW BY FOREIGN COLLECTION SOCIETIES.  THIS CLASS DEFINITION INCLUDES THE LAWFUL HEIRS OF ANY SUCH WRITER WHO IS NO LONGER LIVING.

 

As a layman, it appears that without any notification, I have actually become the Lead Plaintiff for all living writers whose audiovisual works sell abroad. 

 

If this is so, my job description and classification on RICHERT VS. WGA was changed as of December 5, when JOHNSON & JOHNSON MADE A DEAL WITH THE WGA.

 

If I became in fact Lead Plaintiff for a combined 3 parties last December, I should have been informed, for this would materially affect my considerations about all aspects of this case. To my knowledge, neither I nor any other Lead Plaintiffs were a.) informed or b.) asked for approval of this change. For this reason also I need to have any dismissal of me or my class reviewed by all concerned, especially the writers at the heart of it. 

 

MORE

 

William Richert

WILLIAM RICHERT VS WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, INC.