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'Good Wife' Lawsuit Moves Forward, as Margulies' Motion Is Denied

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on June 28, 2013 9:33 AM

A lawsuit involving "The Good Wife" star Julianna Margulies might be headed to court. Don't expect Diane Lockhart and Will Gardner to come to the rescue, however, because this is real life. And judging by the court's latest move, the star is quickly realizing that life as Julianna Margulies involves more legal hiccups than life as Alicia Florrick.

Margulies was sued last year by her ex-managers at the firm of Steve Dontanville, which claimed it had a deal to take 10% of what she continued to make on shows, and for product deals that were negotiated while they were her representatives.

The actress experienced a setback in court this week, when a judge denied her motion for summary judgment in an ongoing fight with D/F Management over more than $420,000 in claimed commissions, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

What Is Summary Judgment?

In a motion for summary judgment, a court rules in favor of one party and against another party without a full trial. In fact, it ends before a trial even begins. When one party believes the other party can't win because there are no important facts in dispute, he can file a motion for summary judgment.

Summary judgment motions exist for the sake of efficiency. The purpose of a trial is to have somebody -- the judge or the jury -- decide what the facts are. But if the facts are not in dispute, then there is no need for a trial.

The judge will grant a summary judgment motion if:

  • The moving party's arguments about the law are correct, and
  • Even assuming the non-moving party's version of the facts were true, the moving party is still entitled to win, based on what the law is.

But if the court agrees with the party opposing the motion and finds that the key facts are in dispute, the court cannot enter summary judgment and must instead send the case to trial.

Westside v. Eastside

In this oral contract case, Margulies was arguing that her summary judgment motion should be granted because she lives and works in New York, and in that state, all contracts must be in writing.

But the other side successfully showed a genuine dispute of fact by arguing that the alleged agreement was negotiated in California, a state which doesn't require all contracts to be in writing.

The judge recognized the factual geographic dispute and denied the motion for summary judgment.

Since she lost the summary judgment motion, Margulies is looking at a possible trial in October that could determine whether she'll have to shell out more than 10% of her ongoing salary from "The Good Wife."

Perhaps she should enlist the help of her real-life attorney husband, Keith Lieberthal?

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