According to The Oregonian, Vinton Studios founder Will Vinton has filed suit against five members of Vinton Studios’ board of directors, including Nike founder Phil Knight. Vinton reportedly claims he was forced out of the privately-held Ore.-based animation house without sufficient compensation and is seeking $3.1 million in damages.
Vinton founded the clay animation-based studio 27 years ago. While the company found success in the commercial realm with the likes of the California Raisins campaign, it failed to capture TV audiences with the animated series The P.J.s (Fox) and Gary & Mike (UPN). The studio was on the verge of bankruptcy before Knight bailed it out with a sizeable investment in October of last year.
Knight, with an estimated net worth of $4.4 billion, has been a Vinton minority shareholder since 1998. His increased involvement is helping the company move forward with expansion plans. The studio reportedly has eight projects in active development, including Tim Burton’s upcoming stop-motion animated feature The Corpse Bride.
Vinton resigned from the board of directors on April 14 and was fired from the company three days later. While the reason for his firing has not been made public, there have been reports of frequent clashes between him and Knight.