Cohen Milstein served as co-lead counsel representing a class of approximately 10,000 animation and visual effects workers in a lawsuit alleging that the defendants, which included Pixar, Lucasfilm Ltd. and DreamWorks Animation, secretly agreed not to solicit class members and to coordinate on compensation.
On June 6, 2017, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh granted final approval of the final two settlements in the litigation, bringing total settlements to $168.5 million between Plaintiffs and Defendants in a long-running class action. Defendant’s Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and Sony Pictures Corp. collectively settled for $18.5 million; and DreamWorks Animation, settled on October 17, 2016 for $50 million. On February 1, 2017, The Walt Disney Co. ultimately settled for $100 million.
The final settlement will yield median awards of more than $13,000 per class member.
Cohen Milstein filed the class action lawsuit in September 2014 in the Northern District of California, on behalf of Robert A. Nitsch, Jr. and animation and visual effects workers, who alleged that animation studios entered into a secret “gentleman's agreement” not to actively solicit each other’s employees or get into bidding wars over employees as well as to coordinate on compensation. Those deals, the complaint alleges, suppressed salaries across the industry in violation of antitrust laws.
On May 26, 2016, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh certified the class, allowing the antitrust lawsuit to proceed as a class action.
The case is styled: In re: Animation Workers Antitrust Litigation; Case No. 5:14-cv-04062; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California