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Kevin Spacey loses arbitration in $31-million suit against ‘House of Cards’ production company

Kevin Spacey smiles in a tuxedo in front of roses and greenery.
Kevin Spacey, shown in 2017, starred in the Netflix drama “House of Cards” but was fired in 2017 after he was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct.
(Evan Agostini /Invision / AP)

An arbitrator ruled that actor Kevin Spacey had breached his contract with the production company behind the blockbuster series “House of Cards.”

Under terms of the ruling, MRC, the show’s production company, was awarded about $31 million, according to the ruling, which was made a year ago but was publicly disclosed Monday in a petition filed by MRC in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Spacey, who starred in the Netflix drama, was fired in 2017 after several accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

In a 2019 lawsuit, MRC alleged the Oscar-winning actor’s dismissal cost the production tens of millions of dollars.

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The Beverly Hills studio had to “scrap all of the development and writing that previously had been done over the course of several months, shelve two episodes of the final season that had already been shot with Spacey’s performance, and rewrite in just a handful of weeks an entire season of the show omitting Spacey’s character,” MRC said in its petition.

Spacey appealed the arbitrator’s ruling, originally made in October 2020. His appeal was denied this month.

Spacey’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

“The safety of our employees, sets and work environments is of paramount importance to MRC and why we set out to push for accountability,” MRC said in a statement.

“It was a privilege representing MRC in this matter. MRC stood its ground, pursued this case doggedly, and obtained the right result in the end,” said Michael J. Kump of the Santa Monica law firm Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump Holley.

The once-celebrated actor came under intense scrutiny in October 2017 after BuzzFeed published a report in which actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Spacey made a sexual advance toward him at a party in 1986, when Rapp was 14.

In its petition, MRC said that once “it became aware of the accusation, it took immediate action by suspending Spacey’s performance; conducting a thorough, months-long investigation” and “writing Spacey out of the final season” as well as terminate his “acting and executive producing contracts.”

Hours after Rapp’s story appeared online, Spacey responded to the allegation on Twitter, apologizing to Rapp, even though he said he did not remember the alleged encounter. Spacey then revealed that he is gay but was widely criticized for coming out at that time.

After Rapp’s allegations, Spacey faced a slew of legal battles from men accusing him of sexual misconduct at the dawn of the #MeToo movement. Separate criminal and civil cases in Massachusetts were also dropped over the summer of 2019.

A federal lawsuit involving a massage therapist who accused him of sexual assault was also dismissed that year, according to court documents obtained by The Times. The dismissal came nearly four months after the anonymous accuser died unexpectedly ahead of the trial.

In addition to being dropped from “House of Cards” — the series continued its final season without the actor and unceremoniously killed off his character, the conniving Underwood — Spacey also was dropped from Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World.”

Times staff writer Nardine Saad contributed to this report.


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