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"Modern Family" cast resolves contract dispute

The cast of the highly popular award-winning sitcom "Modern Family" have reached an agreement with the show's production company, 20th Century Fox, according to a spokesperson for the series. The show's adult cast has some great ammunition in their negotiation arsenal, including having been recently nominated for 14 Emmy Awards, the most of any situational comedy. In the past two years, the show has won Emmy Awards for outstanding Comedy Series and several of the cast members have won individual Emmy Awards for their acting on the comedy series.

The series, which airs on ABC, is now filming its fourth season now that the contract disputes are out of the way. Several of the actors on the series, including Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ed O'Neil, Ty Burrel, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, filed a lawsuit last month claiming the contracts each of them signed were illegal. The suit threatened the start of the show's fourth season if it headed to court.

The cast wanted their contracts to be ruled illegal and invalidated because it bound them to the show for longer than seven years. The lawsuit was dropped when a new contract was agreed to for each of the five case members. Details of the terms of the new contracts were not disclosed, however it was reported that neither side got exactly what they wanted in the negotiations, which could be a sign the negotiations were "well-executed," said a source.

This story shows that even if one party signs a contractual agreement with another party, the law requires certain stipulations be made for that contract to be considered legally binding. No doubt the success of the show added to the justification for the lawsuit claiming the terms of the contract were illegal, however it remains to be seen how a judge would have ruled on that issue.

Regardless of whether the lawsuit could have been successful it did bring the production company to the negotiating table, which may have been the sole purpose of the lawsuit. Having an attorney well-versed in contractual language can be invaluable in either reviewing a contract before agreeing to its terms, or like in the Modern Family cast's case, reviewing the validity of an already signed contract.

Source: The Associated Press, "Stars of 'Modern Family' reach contract deal," Anthony McCartney, July 27, 2012

Our Denver, Colorado, business law firm has experience in a variety of business litigation matters, including contract disputes, breach of contract and contract litigation.

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