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Federal Arbitration Law May Not Suit Charlie Sheen

Tuesday, April, 26, 2011

Charlie Sheen may encounter federal arbitration laws in his dispute with Warner Brothers Television.  Sheen's preference is to use the courts to litigate his contract issues with the owners of his former television show, "Two and a Half Men." Next Tuesday, however, he may find out that the Federal Arbitration Act means that private arbitration proceedings will be used to settle the parties' differences.


Sheen was suddenly fired from the show after he publicly insulted creator Chuck Lorre.  His employment contract states that all disputes between him and his employers will be settled by arbitration, not lawsuits.  This is a standard clause in many employment contracts.


Is Federal Arbitration in Sheen's Future?


According to Jay McCauley of the College of Commercial Arbitrators, if "this matter is deemed to be subject to the Federal Arbitration Act, the court will stay the litigation involving the other parties until the arbitration between Mr.  Sheen and Warner Brothers is completed." This could be a devastating blow to Sheen, who may be relying on the public nature of court proceedings to help his case.


The matter is slated to be heard in court on Tuesday, at which time the court may decide whether to refer the case to arbitration.  One of Sheen's expected claims is that the arbitration clause in his contract is unreasonable.