×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Animation Workers Reach $50 Million Settlement With DreamWorks Animation

A settlement has been reached between a group of animation workers and DreamWorks Animation in a class action lawsuit alleging that DreamWorks and other companies violated antitrust laws by conspiring to set animation wages via nonpoaching agreements.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose on Monday, the settlement provides for a cash payment of $50 million to a settlement fund. The named plaintiffs, Robert Nitsch, David Wentworth, and Georgia Cano, already had reached settlement agreements with Sony ImageWorks and Blue Sky Studios.

Other defendants in the case are the Walt Disney Co., Lucasfilm, Pixar and ImageMovers. Tjose cases are still pending.

Under the terms of the proposed DreamWorks settlement, the class includes certain animation and visual effects workers who worked at DreamWorks from 2004 to 2010; Pixar from 2004 to 2010; Lucasfilm from 2004 to 2010; The Walt Disney Co. from 2004 to 2010; Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks from 2004 to 2010; Blue Sky from 2005 to 2010; and ImageMovers from 2007 to 2010.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys may ask for up to 30 percent of settlement funds for attorneys fees. If the court approves, each of the named plaintiffs would receive up to $10,000 each. Exact payments for each employee will be based on a formula, posted on the class action website

The settlement still must be approved by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 19.

The lawsuit was filed by Nitsch, a former DreamWorks Animation senior character effects artist; Wentworth, a former ImageMovers Digital production engineer; and Cano, a digital artist who held jobs at Rhythm & Hues, Walt Disney Feature Animation and ImageMovers Digital.

In its settlement, Sony agreed to pay $13 million to the settlement fund, and Blue Sky agreed to contribute $5.95 million.

The workers contend that the roots of the anti-poaching agreements go back to the mid-1980s, when George Lucas and Ed Catmull, the president of Steve Jobs’ newly formed company Pixar, agreed to not raid each other’s employees.

Other companies then joined the conspiracy, the suit contended, with agreements on such things as cold calling and notifying each other when making an offer to an employee of another company.

Lucasfilm and Pixar were already targets of a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit in 2010, along with Apple, Google, Adobe Systems, Intel Corp. and Intuit, in which the government contended that their “no solicitation” agreements prevented highly skilled employees from commanding better wages and job opportunities. The companies settled the litigation by agreeing to end such practices for a period of five years.

In a settlement of a class action civil suit that Koh approved in May 2014, Lucasfilm and Pixar agreed to pay $9 million, and Intuit agreed to pay $11 million. But during the litigation, emails were disclosed that appeared to link other companies to the “no poaching” agreements. The animation workers filed their own class action lawsuit in December 2014.

More Biz

  • lucian grainge: cannes lions media person

    Vivendi in Talks With Tencent About Universal Music Sale (Report)

    In the 10 months since Vivendi confirmed that it is seeking a buyer for as much as 50% of Universal Music Group, the industry has watched analysts’ proposed valuations of the company balloon from an initial $22 billion to as much as $50 billion. But according to a report in Bloomberg, private equity investors have [...]

  • Guy Moot and Carianne Marshall on

    Guy Moot and Carianne Marshall on the New Warner Chappell (EXCLUSIVE)

    Even by music industry standards, publishing is a pretty small world: It’s an ultra-specialized area of the business and a tight community where pretty much everyone knows each other. But although the two co-chairs of Warner Chappell Music Publishing — former Sony/ATV president of worldwide creative Guy Moot and former SONGS publishing partner Carianne Marshall [...]

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    Writers Guild Agrees to Resume Meetings With Talent Agencies

    The Writers Guild of America has agreed to resume negotiations with Hollywood’s talent agents, six weeks after talks between the two sides cratered. WGA West President David A. Goodman announced Wednesday night that the WGA had approved a proposal by UTA co-president Jay Sures to get back to the bargaining table. Sures had made the [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Agencies Offer to Restart Talks With WGA to End Packaging Fee Standoff

    Hollywood’s largest talent agencies have offered to restart negotiations with the WGA to end the standoff over the guild’s effort to impose new rules on talent agents. In a letter to WGA West president David Goodman sent Wednesday, UTA co-president Jay Sures extended an olive branch and suggested resuming talks next week. UTA later sent [...]

  • Woodstock 50 Files Appeal Seeking Return

    Woodstock 50 Files Appeal Seeking Return of $18 Million From Former Financial Partner

    In the latest round of the ongoing legal battle between the organizers of Woodstock 50 and their erstwhile partners Dentsu Aegis, attorney Marc Kasowitz announced that the festival has filed an appeal for Dentsu to return some $18.5 million the financial giant withdrew from the organizers’ bank account. That money has been a point of [...]

  • Spider-Man Homecoming

    Film and TV Productions Are Using Drones for Scouting Locations, Lighting and More

    Since a ruling by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014 that cleared the use of drones in film and TV production, the acquisition of footage by these unmanned flying machines has become de rigueur for aerial shooting in cases when cranes or aircraft are impractical or unsafe.  As such, drones have been greeted enthusiastically not [...]

  • White House Communications Director Hope Hicks,

    House Judiciary Committee Issues Subpoena for Fox Spokeswoman Hope Hicks

    The House Judiciary Committee has issued a subpoena for Hope Hicks, the Fox Corporation communications chief who previously worked as the communications director in President Donald Trump’s White House. The call for Hicks to appear before the committee was issued Tuesday. Hicks could not be reached for immediate comment on the matter. Hicks was in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content