A new judge has been appointed to oversee Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit alleging the Walt Disney Co. breached the actress’ contract by releasing her latest Marvel film “Black Widow” on the Disney+ streaming service despite assurances it would debut only in theaters.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elaine Lu was given the case on Wednesday by David Cowan, the presiding civil court judge, after the original judge stepped down because he formerly worked for the law firm that represents the entertainment giant.
Robert S. Draper was a partner at O’Melveny & Meyers LLP until 2005 and receives a monthly pension from the firm, amounting to more than $100,000 a year. Draper said the parties could waive his self-disqualification by filing a joint agreement by Sept. 10, but Johansson’s attorneys announced on Monday they would not agree to such a waiver.
The lawsuit, brought July 29 in Los Angeles Superior Court through the 36-year-old actress’ company, Periwinkle Entertainment Inc., alleges that she structured her salary for “Black Widow” to be “based largely on `box office’ receipts generated by the picture.”
But in court papers filed last month, Disney’s lawyers say an arbitrator should decide the actress’ claims, not a jury. A hearing on Disney’s motion was scheduled for Oct. 15 before Draper, but no new date has been set for Lu to hear the motion.
Lu, a Democrat, was appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in August 2007. Prior to joining the bench, Lu served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District for 10 years.
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