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Kevin Spacey is seeking to have an order that he pay nearly $31 million to the studio behind Netflix’s political series House of Cards thrown out, contending that the arbitrator ‘exceeded his authority’ in making the award.

The actor, 62, was fired from House of Cards after becoming the subject of sexual harassment allegations in 2017. A legal battle then ensued, with Spacey and the studio, Media Rights Capital (MRC), bringing claims against each other.

MRC alleged that Spacey’s conduct breached its sexual harassment policy, and that his ejection from the show, which saw Spacey’s character, conniving politician Frank Underwood, written out, had caused the studio losses of tens of millions of dollars because the show’s sixth season had to be rewritten and shortened from 13 episodes to eight to meet deadlines.

An arbitration ruling in October 2020 went against the actor, who has denied any wrongdoing. Though the ruling itself remains confidential, the order that Spacey pay more than $30 million to MRC became public last November, after MRC filed a court petition to confirm it.

On 21 January, Spacey’s lawyers sought to have the arbitration award vacated, claiming in documents filed with the court that it is ‘permeated with factual and legal errors’, and that ‘while Spacey participated in a pervasive on-set culture that was filled with sexual innuendos, jokes, and innocent horseplay, he never sexually harassed anyone’.

The filing challenges the financial award on the basis that the arbitrator ‘exceeded his authority’, by making an award not rationally related to and ‘completely disconnected from’ the contractual breaches by Spacey found by the arbitrator.

Spacey’s argument is that the lost profits which the arbitrator found MRC had suffered were inevitable once Netflix decided that MRC would have to produce House of Cards’ sixth season without the actor, and that Netflix was unaware of the conduct described by the arbitrator in his decision.

Spacey has maintained a relatively low profile since the allegations against him surfaced, although in May 2021 it was announced that he would have a small role in an independent Italian crime drama directed by Franco Nero.