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On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an effort by Disney and DreamWorks to delay a class action lawsuit that alleges that animation studios colluded with each other to deny its workers better job opportunities and keep wages low.
Robert Nitsch, a former visual effects worker who worked on Matrix Revolutions and Kung Fu Panda, and others are moving forward after striking a $13 million settlement with Sony Pictures and a $5.9 million deal with Fox’s Blue Sky Studios. A trial is currently scheduled for June 2017 to hear evidence in an antitrust lawsuit pertaining to the alleged way that these companies conspired about a decade ago not to “cold call” one another’s employees.
In May, U.S. District Court judge Lucy Koh partially certified the class over Disney’s objections that the issue of statute of limitation precluded this outcome. Specifically, the defendants argued that plaintiffs must establish fraudulent concealment or else their claims are time-barred. They say that many class members had actual knowledge of their potential claims through meetings, blog posts and emails years before their action was filed, and that accordingly, it would be inappropriate to address claims on a class basis when knowledge from one class member to the next could be varying.
After Koh wouldn’t let this argument stop certification, Disney and DreamWorks hired one of the nation’s top appellate lawyers and told the 9th Circuit that the case raised “an important question on a recurring issue impacting a wide range of class actions.”
Despite this, the 9th Circuit denies the petition for permission to appeal.
Disney and DreamWorks may attempt to get the 9th Circuit interested again on the same issue once the trial is complete and a judgment has been entered, but they needed the green light for an interlocutory appeal. On Monday, the bid was denied without further comment by two of the 9th Circuit judges.
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