Charlie Sheen's lawsuit dealt a blow

Jun 15 2011 - 5:18pm

LOS ANGELES -- Charlie Sheen suffered a legal setback in his fight against Warner Bros. and producer Chuck Lorre when his $100-million suit against the two was kicked to arbitration by a California Superior Court judge.

Sheen, who was fired this year from his starring role on the CBS hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men," which is produced by the studio and Lorre, wanted to fight his termination in front of a jury. Warner and Lorre argued that a clause in Sheen's contract stipulates that an arbitrator be used to resolve contract disputes.

Judge Allan Goodman, who heard arguments from both sides earlier this spring, ruled Wednesday that the arbitration clause is valid. The arbitration process, which was put on hold until the judge's ruling, will now resume.

Warner Bros. said it was very pleased by the decision, and Lorre's lawyer, Howard Weitzman, said the court made the appropriate ruling.

Sheen's camp argued that it still has a chance to square off against Warner and Lorre in court. The actor's lawyer, Martin Singer of Lavely & Singer, said the ruling just means it is up to the arbitrator to decide whether this case will be heard by a jury. He also accused Warner of delaying the matter because "they know they are going to have to pay millions of dollars to my client."

In the ruling, Goodman wrote that "arbitrability of the matters indicated, together with any defenses, is properly determined by the arbitrator." Singer will try to make the case to the arbitrator that this is a matter for the courts.

Warner fired Sheen, who had been getting a salary of $1.2 million an episode, from "Two and a Half Men" in March, saying he had become unable to perform with any reliability. Sheen has had numerous battles with substance abuse as well as run-ins with the law and accusations of being violent with women. Sheen's lifestyle had led to the show being shut down while he dealt with personal issues.

Sheen, who just before being dismissed had publicly bashed the studio and Lorre on television and radio, countered with the suit, arguing that he was able to perform and that Warner was violating his contract.

In May, Warner Bros. hired actor Ashton Kutcher to fill the void Sheen's exit will leave on the CBS show.

(c) 2011, Los Angeles Times.

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