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Wage-Fixing Suit Draws to Close with $100M Disney Settlement


Wage-Fixing Suit Draws to Close with $100M Disney Settlement

The end is in sight for the class-action lawsuit that shook up the animation industry. Holdout defendants Disney, Pixar and Lucasfilm (all under The Walt Disney Company umbrella) have reached a $100 million settlement with claimants who say that major animation studios broke antitrust laws by conspiring to set wages for artists and technical employees through non-poaching agreements.

The settlement, which was disclosed in a Tuesday court filing, also covers ImageMovers — now known as Two Pic MC.

Last month, US District Judge Lucy Koh granted preliminary approval for a $50 million settlement proposed by DreamWorks Animation. Previous settlements were reached with Sony Pictures Animation and Imageworks for $13 million, and with Blue Sky for nearly $6 million. All monies will be paid into a settlement fund to be distributed according to a formula available on the suit’s website.
The first suit was filed in 2014 by Robert Nitsch, originating in the discoveries of the 2010 Department of Justice tech industry antitrust action, and later combined with complaints by David Wentworth and Georgia Cano under Judge Koh.

The animators contend that the anti-poaching agreements and resultant wage-fixing originate in the 1980s with an agreement not to court each other’s employees between George Lucas and Ed Catmull, the president of newly formed Pixar. Other influential studios are said to have joined in the conspiracy, which included rules about cold calling, notification of hiring offers and agreements not to increase compensation against counteroffers.




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