Following a very successful year in the wake of Frozen and other blockbuster hits, multiple Hollywood Studios have been named in several antitrust class actions. As I discussed in my blog entry of September 30, Plaintiff Robert Nitsch filed an antitrust class action against The Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc., Pixar, Lucasfilm Ltd., LLC, Digital Domain 3.0, Inc., ImageMovers, LLC, ImageMovers Digital, Sony Pictures Animation, Inc. and Sony Pictures Imageworks, Inc. Plaintiff Nitsch accused the Defendants of participating in a conspiracy in which the companies agreed that they would not raid the other companies’ employees. See Nitsch v. DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., et al., Case No. 14-cv-04062-LHK, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Since the Nitsch matter was filed, two additional antitrust class actions have been filed recently in the same federal district court against the same group of defendants, involving substantially similar allegations. See Wentworth v. Lucasfilm LTD. LLC et al., Case No. 14-cv-04422-JCS, and Cano v. Pixar, et al., Case No. 14-cv-4203. The complaints in these two cases also allege that there were non-solicitation agreements among the defendants, and that the Defendants intended to suppress wages for animators, digital artists, software engineers, and other technical and creative workers.
These three antitrust class actions are another reminder of the importance of companies’ involving legal counsel in any agreements among competitors and pricing decisions, so that legal counsel may evaluate compliance with antitrust laws and unfair competition laws. Not only might a prudent company reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit, but a company might reduce the likelihood of several lawsuits.