How well does an oral agreement between two parties hold up in court?
If you’re a lawyer you probably already know the answer to this question, but if you’re someone who isn’t, and you’ve been paying attention to the trial of ex-Friends star Lisa Kudrow and her former manager Scott Howard, you’re probably wondering how everything will play out.
Howard is suing Kudrow because he wasn’t paid the 5 percent of her earnings after they stopped working together, which was promised to him by the actress verbally in 1991–three years before the first episode of Friends aired.
At the start of the show, Kudrow earned $13,500 per episode and by the time Friends went off the air, she was making a ridiculously high amount of $1,040,000–not to mention millions of more dollars for endorsements and residuals.
And that’s were the problem lies. Howard says Kudrow promised he would get 5 percent from whatever monies she made when the two were working together, so he should still be collecting from her even though their business relationship has ended.
Marc Baute, Howard’s attorney, said that Kudrow didn’t sign paperwork agreeing to this deal on purpose. “When she was making money she signed written agreements,” he said. “But when it was about someone else making money, she didn’t.”
Kudrow admitted to the oral agreement, but said she only promised Howard money from the first set of residuals and nothing after that. “For me it was a small ask, [a] gesture,” she said.
Additionally, Kudrow said she kept Howard as a manager but regrets doing so, because if she did fire him, she wouldn’t be going through all of the legal hassles she’s currently facing. “I felt like I didn’t really need Scott anymore,” she stated.
“I didn’t want to fire him as I didn’t think it would be fair. A lot of people were firing their managers and told me I was being an idiot for not doing so. I think I wanted him to know that having a manager was unnecessary but I was going to keep him anyway. I just wanted a gesture.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons