Paul Hastings Secures Victory in California Court of Appeal for William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC

March 07, 2024

Paul Hastings secured an outright victory in the California Court of Appeal on behalf of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC (“WME”), when the panel affirmed the trial court’s award of summary judgment for WME on all claims.

In VFLA EventCo LLC v. William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC, festival organizer VFLA sued talent agency WME in a dispute over guarantees paid to secure performances by Ellie Goulding, Kali Uchis, and Lizzo (the “Artists”), at the Virgin Fest Los Angeles music festival scheduled for June 2020.  As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, VFLA cancelled the festival and demanded the return of the guarantees. The Artists refused VFLA’s demand, as the force majeure provision in their performance agreements squarely placed the risk of a force majeure event on the new festival organizer. VFLA then filed suit against the Artists, but also sued WME for conversion, money had and received, violating the California Unfair Competition Law, and declaratory relief.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of both the Artists and WME. The trial court not only agreed with the Artists’ interpretation of the force majeure provision, it also determined that VFLA had not shown that WME had engaged in any independently wrongful or tortious conduct and that WME could not be held liable as an agent under the performance agreements.

On March 6, 2024, the Court of Appeal affirmed the summary judgment ruling, confirming the Artists’ interpretation of the force majeure provision and dismissing VFLA’s challenges to the judgment in favor of WME.

Complex Litigation and Arbitration partner Susan Leader led the Paul Hastings team, which included associate Stephanie Balitzer

More details about the decision can be found here.

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