Charlie Sheen loses early round in "Men" lawsuit

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 15, 2011 6:04 PM
Charlie Sheen loses early round in "Men" lawsuit

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A judge on Wednesday sent Charlie Sheen's lawsuit against Warner Bros to arbitration, in a ruling that denies the actor a public court hearing over his firing from hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men."

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan Goodman's ruling was seen as a victory for the studio behind the sitcom and for producer Chuck Lorre, who also was a target of Sheen's lawsuit after a bitter feud with the actor.

After taking a break from the show for drug rehabilitation following a wild party at his house, Sheen was fired in March from top-rated comedy sitcom "Two and a Half Men," which is produced by Warner Bros but airs on CBS.

Sheen, who claims in the suit that he was fired after criticizing producers, is seeking over $100 million in damages.

Goodman's ruling puts off the opportunity for Sheen to present his accusations in open court, which could save the parties involved from potential embarrassment.

The judge noted in his 21-page decision that Sheen's contract called for disputes to be referred to arbitration.

"We're very gratified by the court's ruling enforcing the parties' arbitration agreement," Warner Bros said in a statement.

In a public war of words with Lorre earlier this year, Sheen called the producer "a "stupid, stupid little man" and other derogatory, expletive-filled comments.

Lorre's attorney, Howard Weitzman, said in a statement that following the judge's ruling, "This matter will now proceed in an orderly fashion as the parties agreed to."

Marty Singer, an attorney for Sheen, said the arbitrator could still send the case back to be heard in open court.

"We feel very confident our client will prevail in the case," Singer said. "That's what matters at the end of the day, it's who wins and who loses, not who wins in the preliminary skirmishes."

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)