Judge kicks Charlie Sheen suit against Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre to arbitration
Charlie Sheen's fight to have a day in court just got a lot tougher.
A California Superior Court judge kicked Sheen's $100-million lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre -- the studio and executive producer of "Two and a Half Men," the hit CBS situation comedy that the actor was fired from earlier this year -- back to arbitration.
Sheen, who filed the suit after he was fired from the show in March, had been resisting arbitration as a means to settle his differences with the studio and Lorre even though his contract contains a clause stipulating that an arbitrator be used to resolve contract disputes.
Judge Allan Goodman, who heard arguments from both sides earlier this spring, ruled that the arbitration clause is valid. The arbitration process, which had started, but then 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 Bros. 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 will go to court or not. He also accused Warner Bros. 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 Bros. fired Sheen, who had been getting a salary of $1.2 million per 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 prior to being dismissed had publicly bashed both the studio and Lorre on television and radio, countered with the suit, arguing that he was able to perform and Warner Bros. was violating his contract.
In May, Warner Bros. hired actor Ashton Kutcher to fill the void Sheen's exit will leave on what has been a hit show for CBS.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Charlie Sheen. Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP.