Last year, Kevin Spacey was ordered to pay MRC, the producer of Netflix’s House of Cards, $31 million in compensatory damages following his termination from the show. He later petitioned to have the order reversed, but at an August 4th hearing, a judge determined the actor’s appeal had no standing.
Spacey was fired from House of Cards in 2017 after eight employees of the show accused him of sexual misconduct. After his termination, MRC was forced to rewrite the show’s sixth and final season to exclude Spacey from the plot, and cut the season down from 13 episodes to eight in order to meet streaming deadlines. After an internal investigation and an evidentiary hearing, a neutral arbitrator concluded Spacey had violated the show’s anti-harassment policy and ordered him to pay $29.5 million in compensatory damages, $1.2 million in attorneys’ fees, and $235,707 in costs to MRC.
At the hearing, Spacey’s lawyer, Jonathan E. Phillips, argued that the arbitrator used evidence beyond the case’s scope in reaching his conclusion, citing “five specific” crew members who only came forward in MRC’s internal investigation after his firing. Phillips argued that because Netflix was not aware of these interactions before firing Spacey, they could not be used in deciding MRC’s damages. However, the judge was not moved by Phillips’ reasoning.
“Respondents fail to demonstrate that this is even a close case,” Los Angeles County Judge Mel Red Recana wrote in his ruling (per Rolling Stone). “Respondents do not demonstrate that the damages award was so utterly irrational that it amounts to an arbitrary remaking of the parties’ contracts. Respondents do not show that the arbitrator acted beyond his authority under the scope of the parties’ arbitration agreements.” Because of this, the judge said he would not review or 4reverse the arbitrator’s findings, thus leaving Spacey with the $31 million bill.
News of Spacey’s on-set sexual misconduct came days after Anthony Rapp came forward with accusations of his own, alleging that Spacey forced himself on him when he was 14 years old. Rapp sued Spacey over the incident in 2020. Earlier this year, the actor was charged with five counts of sexual assault in the UK, where he pled not guilty.