Judge Judy Sheindlin, CBS Sued Over Library Sale

Judge Judy Sheindlin, CBS Corp., CBS Studios and Big Ticket Television are facing another lawsuit from two people — one alive, one dead — who claim that they initially introduced Sheindlin to Larry Lyttle and Big Ticket Television, leading to the creation of a phenomenon. Judge Judyis celebrating its 22nd season on the air and usually is the top-rated show in syndication. Sheindlin herself earns an annual salary of $47 million.

Kaye Switzer and The Sandi Spreckman Trust, represented by Jay Robinson, are suing the above defendants for $4.75 million after CBS paid Sheindlin a reported $95 million late last summer to acquire the entire Judge Judy library. CBS declined comment.

According to the complaint: “In 1995, Kaye Switzer and Sandi Spreckman entered into a contract with Big Ticket whereby Big Ticket would develop what came to be the Judge Judy television series pilot, with Plaintiffs being no less than Supervising Producers, and receiving both flat compensation as well as continuing percentage-based compensation for their roles.

“The contract further provided that if Plaintiffs were not contracted to render continuing services for the show, they would continue to receive specified compensation for the life of the series. The contract was first created on August 28, 1995, was revised on September 21, 1995, and was revised a last time on September 26, 1995. Said contracts are incorporated herein by reference rather than being attached as exhibits, due to confidentiality provisions.”

With no contracts on evidence — and only incorporated by “reference” — it will be difficult for the plaintiffs to prove that they are owed money.

CBS was previously sued in March 2016 by Rebel Entertainment Partners, which claimed that CBS, CBS Studios and CBS-owned Big Ticket Entertainment have owed them a percentage of profits since 2010.

In response, CBS said in a motion of summary of adjudication filed Aug. 11: “Rebel is not (and does represent) a Judge Judy writer, creator, performer, producer, financier, or crew member,” said the Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton lawyers for CBS Studios, CBS Corporation and CBS-owned Big Ticket Television. “Despite this, it has been paid approximately $20 million from the show over 20 years. That Rebel cannot content itself with continued receipt of millions of dollars for ‘services’ provided two decades ago does not mean it can ignore the express provisions of the Agency Agreement or seek to impose an implied covenant to limit or vary them.”

A trial on that lawsuit is scheduled for March.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.