This has been a 2 and half year story, with so many twists and turns, it has become a venerable soap opera. In this recent installment, Disney and Dreamworks comes up with a very unusual excuse on why they believe they were not suppressing wages – from Cartoon Brew:
By the end of last week, however, Disney and Dreamworks had appealed the certification to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In their appeal, the studios reminded the court that the entire case had been thrown out last year by Judge Koh on statute of limitations grounds—that is, that Nitsch, Cano and Wentworth filed their lawsuit too many years after the allegedly illegal behavior of the studios took place. Koh only let the case go forward once the plaintiffs showed that the studios may have fraudulently concealed their activities.
But the studios now argue that even if they concealed their actions, many artists—those who would be part of the certified class—knew about the alleged conspiracy among the studios. The studios point to emails between Pixar employees—one of whom would be a class member—referring to a “gentleman’s agreement” between Pixar and another studio.
They also point to a 2006 meeting between Disney animation employees and the studio’s “president”—presumably, Ed Catmull—in which the president reportedly admitted to a non-poaching agreement among the studios. There is also a meeting between Pixar’s general manager and several interns that mentioned the “gentleman’s agreement,” and that Pixar uploaded the video of the meeting to the company’s intranet, available for all employees to see (and thus learn of the alleged conspiracy).
The studios refer to blog posts (including those made by the Animation Guild Blog), additional meetings, and other evidence, all arguably indicating that a substantial number of artists who make up the certified class had knowledge of the allegedly fraudulently concealed conspiracy.
And if they had knowledge of it, then that knowledge voids any concealment defense to the statute of limitations. In layman’s terms, any Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm, or Dreamworks employee who had knowledge that they were being screwed by the studios should not be eligible to be a part of the lawsuit.
The Judge has not been convinced, thinking that the arguments stated are too general. Now Both Comcast (owners of Illumination, who now owns Dreamworks) and Disney is taking this appeal to the state supreme court of California, and yet again, it will be another few weeks.
Things are just getting wilder by the second. Keep it here for more updates as they become available.