So, now – possibly the chickens have come to roost. As the Hollywood Reporter stated today:
A California federal judge has handed DreamWorks Animation, The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures and Blue Sky Studios a big setback in an antitrust lawsuit that examines the way that studios allegedly colluded to deny workers in the visual effects community better work opportunities and better compensation.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh denied defendants’ motion to dismiss an amended complaint just four months after she ruled that claims were barred by the statute of limitations. This time, she determines that the plaintiffs have sufficiently added details to their complaint to have adequately pled that the conspiracy was fraudulently concealed.
The lawsuits from Robert Nitsch Jr. and others followed an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department in 2010 and subsequent litigation against Pixar, Lucasfilm, Apple, Google, Adobe and Intuit. Pixar and Lucasfilm previously settled for $9 million (and are now facing new claims here) while the tech companies have been seeking approval on a settlement worth about $415 million.
Judge Koh says it’s enough.
“Here, the Court finds that Plaintiffs’ allegations of pretextual statements regarding compensation, in combination with Plaintiffs’ allegations that Defendants actively concealed and ensured the secrecy of the conspiracy, are sufficient to allege ‘affirmative acts,'” she writes.
She adds that whether plaintiffs had “constructive knowledge” of the claims years before filing a lawsuit is an issue for trial.
There is going to be lots more of the story in court – and its going to be very interesting. We at Toon Barn will keep you posted.