Sony Studio The Second to Reach Settlement in Anti-Poaching Suit
May 04, 2016 02:19 AM EDT
Earlier this week, Blue Sky Studios reached a multi-million dollar settlement in an anti poaching suit against multiple animation studios. Sony will soon follow to sign a settlement in a lawsuit against animations studios. The lawsuit was filed by former visual effect artists over over wage-fixing and anti-poaching agreement allegations.
Former DreamWorks Animation artist Robert Nitsch Jr. first filed the lawsuit on September 8, 2014. He alledged a conspiracy between big animation studios to keep costs down by sacrificing employees. They paid the employees less than their worth and restricted the employees' career advancement.
"The Defendants themselves have explained the purpose of the conspiracy and in doing so, articulated the harm and injury caused by it to their workers. George Lucas explained under oath that the purpose of the non-solicitation agreement was to suppress wages and keep the visual effects industry out of "a normal industrial competitive situation,'" Nitsch said in his filings. "The agreement was explicitly intended to avoid 'a bidding war with other companies because we don't have the margins for that sort of thing.'"
Other plaintiffs, David Wentworth and Georgia Cano, soon followed Robert Nitsch in suing the studios. The defendants are Walt Disney Company, Pixar Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Lucasfilm, and ImageMovers Digital.
Blue Sky Studios, Fox's animation powerhouse that produced 'The Peanuts Movie', 'Rio' and 'Ice Age' franchises, reached a settlement in a lawsuit. Cartoon Brew reported that the plaintiffs, Nitsch, Wentworth and cano filed for court approval of the settlement agreement.
In this first settlement, Nitsch, Wentworth and Cano will each receive $10,000.
"The Court should preliminarily approve the proposed settlement as fair, reasonable and adequate because it provides for the class A cash payment of $5,950,000 and cooperation from Blue Sky," said the filing in federal court of Northern California on Thursday. "That amount is approximately 25 percent of plaintiffs' expert's calculation of the damages attributable to Blue Sky employees in the class."
Following Blue Sky Studios, Deadline reported that Sony also signed a $13 million dollar deal settlement. This indicates a major shift in the 'toon studios' legal strategy, and the remaining defendant is expected to make a settlement to finish all legal disputes.
"Plaintiffs have reached a settlement with Defendants Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. and Sony Pictures Animation Inc. and by early next week will file a motion for preliminary approval of this settlement," declared a case management filing by the lawyers for plaintiffs in the federal court.
Animation Magazine reported that the plaintiffs' legal team hopes to schedule a hearing with Judge Lucy Koh for the Sony settlement alongside the June 16 for the Blue Sky deal.
Despite the settlement, Blue Sky strongly insists that it does not represent an admission of wrongdoing or liability on the part of the studio.