Ferguson v. Writers Guild of Am.

226 Cal. App. 3d 1382, 277 Cal. Rptr. 450 (1991)



The familiar principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies prevents a litigant from pursuing a judicial remedy for procedural defects without having first asked the private organization to correct them.


Appellant was engaged by a picture corporation to write a screenplay for a feature-length theatrical motion picture. When the picture was completed, respondent writer's guild determined the writing credits for the picture. Appellant then commenced the instant action by filing a petition for writ of mandate in the superior court, requesting that respondent be required to set aside its credit determination and make a new one giving appellant sole screenplay credit and sole story credit. The superior court denied appellant's writ. On appeal, the court affirmed and denied appellant's request to dismiss the review.


Is appellant precluded from seeking judicial review of procedural irregularities? 




The court found that judicial review of respondent's credits determinations was restricted to considering whether appellant demonstrated a material and prejudicial departure from the procedures specified in the credits manual. Thus, the court found that appellant failed to preserve his alleged procedural defects for judicial review because he did not demonstrate that he presented such assertions to respondent's policy review board. The procedures employed in the present arbitration have already been reviewed for correctness by the Writers Guild's own policy review board. The court accords considerable deference to the decision of the policy review board, because of its members' expertise in the interpretation and application of schedule A and the credits manual.

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