Ex-Manager of Friends Star Gets $1.6 million Jury Award
On February 25, Scott Howard, the former manager of Friends star Lisa Kudrow, received a $1.6 million jury award in his breach of contract case against the actress. Howard sued Kudrow in 2008 for continuing residual monies he believed he was owed for negotiating work for Kudrow prior to his firing in 2007. Though there was no written contract between the two parties, Howard alleged that he and Kudrow had operated under an oral agreement, which is standard practice for agents in the entertainment industry.
The case was originally dismissed at the summary judgment stage, but was later revived on appeal. The reviewing appellate court ruled that the lower court had improperly excluded the testimony of Howard’s expert witness Martin Bauer, a Hollywood agent with a wide range of experience in the mores and customs at issue. Bauer testified that it was commonplace for the managers of actors and actresses to be paid in perpetuity for any gigs that the manager had negotiated for the individual, regardless of whether or not they were later fired. He also indicated that he would never agree to a contract that would see his residual commissions cut off upon his termination.
Howard’s victory wasn’t total, however. It was originally estimated that $8 million in commissions were at stake in the litigation, far less than the $1.6 million award that Howard ultimately received. To date, Howard has received at least $11 million from Kudrow during his lengthy professional relationship which began in 1991. By the time the Friends show had run its course, Kudrow was pulling in more than $1 million per episode.
Kudrow’s attorney, Gerard Sauer, offered this comment: “The jury’s verdict is merely one step in the legal process. This case ultimately will be resolved at the appellate level. Ms. Kudrow has faith in the judicial system, and she believes that the eventual outcome of this contractual dispute will be in her favor.”