Kevin Spacey has lost his bid to overturn a $31 million arbitration award he was ordered to pay House of Cards producer MRC for sexual misconduct involving young crew members behind the scenes of the Netflix series.
Spacey was dropped from the Netflix series during its sixth season after allegations surfaced that he preyed on young men. The dispute was sent to arbitration, where an arbitrator found that the actor breached his contract by violating anti-harassment policies and failing to provide services “in a professional manner.” The arbitrator also found that Spacey wasn’t entitled to be paid for the remainder of his contract, even though it contained a pay-or-play provision, and that his breaches caused the show’s sixth season to be shortened and rewritten and cost MRC eight-figures in costs and lost revenue.
The actor’s legal team fired back, challenging the award in open court and contending it was “permeated with factual and legal errors — most fundamentally, its finding that MRC proved by a preponderance of the evidence that Spacey sexually harassed five former [House of Cards] crewmembers.” His lawyers argued Spacey “participated in a pervasive on-set culture that was filled with sexual innuendoes, jokes and innocent horseplay” but never harassed anyone and when he was told “his conduct made someone feel uncomfortable or was in any way unwanted, he stopped.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mel Red Recana on Thursday confirmed the award, adopting a tentative ruling after hearing oral arguments.
“The Arbitrator’s conclusion that Respondents’ breach caused the aforesaid damages is a factual finding which the court generally cannot review for error,” Recana explains in the ruling, which is posted below. “Further, the court cannot review the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the arbitration award. A three- arbitrator panel also affirmed the Arbitrator’s Final Award in proceedings under the JAMS Optional Arbitration Appeal Procedure.”
Recana emphasized that generally in order to be overturned an arbitrator’s decision must be “utterly irrational,” which isn’t the case here.
“We are pleased with the court’s ruling,” MRC’s attorney Michael Kump told THR.
MRC is a co-owner of The Hollywood Reporter through a joint venture with Penske Media Corporation called PMRC.