Animation Workers Antitrust Litigation

DEFENDANT NAME: Pixar, Lucasfilm and its division Industrial Light & Magic, DreamWorks Animation, The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blue Sky Studios, ImageMovers LLC, ImageMovers Digital LLC and others
STOCK SYMBOL:
CASE NUMBER: 14-cv-4062-LHK
CASE NAME:
COURT: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
STATUS: Active
CLASS PERIOD:
LEAD PLAINTIFF DEADLINE:
DATE FILED: 12/02/14
COURT LOCATION:

$50M settlement reached with Dreamworks

Dreamworks Animation agreed to pay $50 million to settle a class action accusing it of perpetuating a "no poach" agreement with other studios over the hiring of animators.

Hagens Berman represents a nationwide class of animators and other artistic workers in an antitrust class-action case filed against defendants Pixar, Lucasfilm and its division Industrial Light & Magic, DreamWorks Animation, The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blue Sky Studios, ImageMovers LLC, ImageMovers Digital LLC and others.

The class alleges that the visual effects and animation companies have conspired to restrain competition in order to suppress payment to animators and other related workers, cheating these employees out of bidding competition.

According to the suit, the animation companies secretly agreed to work together to deprive thousands of their employees better compensation and deny them opportunities to advance their careers at other companies, doing so by limiting recruitment activities that otherwise would have existed. This included the companies colluding to not actively recruit employees from each other – an anti-solicitation scheme.

The suit alleges that although the anti-solicitation scheme may have started in Northern California, the scheme metastasized beyond that region. Pixar’s Vice President of Human Resources, Lori McAdams, wrote in 2005: “With regard to ILM, Sony, Blue Sky, etc., . . . we have a gentleman’s agreement not to directly solicit/poach from their employee pool.” Another individual involved in the scheme wrote in an email, “I know you are adamant about keeping a lid on rising labor costs,” according to the complaint.

The class of animators seeks to recover the difference between the compensation that class members were paid and what class members would have been paid absent defendants’ illegal conduct.

On August 20, 2015, Judge Koh denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint and on February 1, 2016, plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification.

Recently, a settlement was reached with defendant Blue Sky. Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement with Blue Sky on March 31, 2016.

For more information about this case or about joining the class action, please contact AnimationAntitrust@hbsslaw.com or fill out the contact form on this page.


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Case Timeline

10/17/16: $50M settlement reached with Dreamworks

Dreamworks Animation agreed to pay $50 million to settle a class action accusing it of perpetuating a "no poach" agreement with other studios over the hiring of animators.

05/25/16: Court approves class certification

U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh certified a class of animation and visual effects workers, allowing the case to proceed as a class action against all defendants.  In an 80-page opinion, Judge Koh found that there was “copious” evidence that the defendants agreed to not solicit other defendants’ employees, and agreed to coordinate compensation policies.  Judge Koh also found that the evidence supported plaintiffs’ argument that defendants’ conduct suppressed compensation across the class of animation and visual effects workers.

03/31/16: CASE UPDATE

Recently, a settlement was reached with defendant Blue Sky. Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement with Blue Sky on March 31, 2016.

02/01/16: Motion for Class Certification

Plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification.

08/30/15: Amended Complaint

Co-Lead Counsel Hagens Berman files Amended Class Action Complaint

08/20/15: Motion to Dismiss Denied

Judge Koh denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint.

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