10:50pm PT by Ashley Cullins
$100M Disney Settlement Signals End of Animators' Anti-Poaching Fight
Disney has agreed to pay $100 million to put an end to an anti-poaching pact lawsuit brought by animation and VFX workers, according to a Tuesday court filing.
The legal fight began in 2014 when former DreamWorks Animation employee Robert Nitsch Jr. filed an antitrust lawsuit against the major animation studios, following an investigation by the Department of Justice. Nitsch claimed that a 1980s gentleman's agreement between Lucasfilm and Pixar to not poach each other's employees led to an industry-wide pact to keep the cost of labor low.
All of the defendants in the suit, Blue Sky Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Two Pic MC, Pixar, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks and The Walt Disney Company, have now reached settlements with class members. DreamWorks reached its $50 million settlement in October, leaving only Disney and its subsidiaries as holdouts.
Now the House of Mouse has reached its own terms with the animators, increasing the total combined settlement to nearly $170 million. As part of Disney's proposed settlement, attorneys' fees can only be collected from the settlement fund itself — not on top of it.
Pending U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh's approval of the settlement, which is posted below, the animators' fight has drawn to a close.