Spike Lee sued for failing to pay union health contributions

Associated Press
FILE - In this April 4, 2016 photo, Spike Lee attends the NYU Tisch School of the Arts 50th Anniversary Gala in New York.  Lee and his companies are being sued by the directors of three union benefit plans for not making sufficient health and pension contributions. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Lee, Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks and Black Butterfly Productions. It claims an audit found nearly $45,000 in unpaid contributions between September 2007 and March 2010. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - In this April 4, 2016 photo, Spike Lee attends the NYU Tisch School of the Arts 50th Anniversary Gala in New York. Lee and his companies are being sued by the directors of three union benefit plans for not making sufficient health and pension contributions. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Lee, Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks and Black Butterfly Productions. It claims an audit found nearly $45,000 in unpaid contributions between September 2007 and March 2010. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Filmmaker Spike Lee and his companies are being sued by the directors of three union benefit plans who contend he didn't make sufficient health and pension contributions.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Lee, Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks and Black Butterfly Productions. It claims an audit found nearly $45,000 in unpaid contributions between September 2007 and March 2010.

The suit said Lee controlled Black Butterfly, a signatory to collective bargaining agreements, and treated its assets, which include the 2008 film, "Miracle at St. Anna," as his own while failing to pay its debts.

"Despite multiple demands, Black Butterfly has failed to pay the claims asserted by the Plans. Black Butterfly refuses, and continues to refuse, to pay the amounts due for unpaid contributions disclosed by the audit," the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs manage plans for the American Federal of Musicians, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Studio Transportation Drivers. They are seeking all unpaid damages, interest, audit costs and legal fees.

Lee is a writer, director and actor. His films include "Do the Right Thing," and "Malcolm X." His most recent movie, "Chi-Raq," is about gun violence in Chicago.

A message left with Forty Acres wasn't immediately returned.