Animation Workers Antitrust Litigation

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is this lawsuit about?
  2. What is a class action, and who is involved?
  3. Why is there a Settlement with Dreamworks, and with Pixar, Lucasfilm Ltd., LCC, The Walt Disney Company, and Two Pic Mic LLC f/k/a ImageMovers Digital LLC?
  4. Have there been past settlement agreements with other defendants?
  5. Do these Settlements end the case?
  6. Is the lawsuit continuing?
  7. Am I a Class Member?
  8. What if I still don’t know if I’m a Class Member?
  9. Does it make a difference whether I work or worked for DreamWorks, or for Pixar, Lucasfilm, The Walk Disney Company, Two Pic (f/k/a IMD), on the one hand, or Blue Sky or Sony Pictures, on the other hand?
  10. What are my rights as a Class Member?
  11. What if I previously opted out of this litigation?
  12. What does the DreamWorks Settlement provide?
  13. What does the Disney Settlement provide?
  14. How much money can I get from the Settlement?
  15. How can I get money from the Settlements?
  16. When will I get my payments?
  17. What am I giving up to get payments under the Settlements?
  18. Who represents me as a Class Member in this case?
  19. Should I get my own lawyer?
  20. How will the lawyers be paid?
  21. How do I get out of the Settlements?
  22. As a Class Member, if I don’t opt out of the Settlements, can I sue the Settling Defendants for the same thing separately by myself?
  23. As a Class Member, if I opt out of one or both of the Settlements, can I get money from that Settlement?
  24. How do I tell the Court that I like or don’t like the proposed Settlements, and may I speak at the hearing?
  25. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlements?
  26. Do I have to come to the Fairness Hearing?
  27. What happens if I do nothing at all?
  28. Will my manager know whether or how I responded to the Notice?
  1. What is this lawsuit about?

    The lawsuit claims that Defendants conspired to suppress compensation by agreeing not to solicit each other’s employees and to coordinate compensation policies in violation of federal and state antitrust laws. Each of the Defendants, including DreamWorks, Pixar, Lucasfilm, The Walt Disney Company, and Two Pic formerly known as ImageMovers Digital, denies that it violated any laws or engaged in any wrongdoing. Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, Two Pic/IMD; DreamWorks; Blue Sky; and Sony Pictures have entered into separate Settlement Agreements with Plaintiffs. To obtain more information about the claims in this lawsuit, you can view the complaint and other court documents in this case here.

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  2. What is a class action, and who is involved?

    In a class action lawsuit, one or more persons called “Named Plaintiffs” or “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. The people with similar claims together are a “Class” and are called “Class Members.” A class action resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class. The Court appointed Named Plaintiffs Georgia Cano, Robert Nitsch, and David Wentworth as Class Representatives in this case. 

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  3. Why is there a Settlement with Dreamworks, and with Pixar, Lucasfilm Ltd., LCC, The Walt Disney Company, and Two Pic Mic LLC f/k/a ImageMovers Digital LLC?

    The Court has not found in favor of any party, including Plaintiffs, DreamWorks, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, or Two Pic/IMD. Plaintiffs and DreamWorks, and Plaintiffs and Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/IMD, have agreed to Settlement Agreements which, if approved, will bring the claims against DreamWorks and against Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/IMD to an end. Settling the case avoids the uncertainty of continuing the case between them and the cost of further litigation, and Class Members will get the benefits of the Settlements. The Class Representatives and Class Counsel support the Settlements and believe they are in the best interests of the Class.

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  4. Have there been past settlement agreements with other defendants?

    Yes, Plaintiffs previously executed settlement agreements with Blue Sky and Sony Pictures. The Court has granted final approval of those settlements. A separate notice covering those settlements was previously sent. The current Notice covers only the new DreamWorks and Disney settlements.

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  5. Do these Settlements end the case?

    Yes. Following the Blue Sky and Sony Pictures settlements, the only Non-Settling Defendants remaining in this case were DreamWorks, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/IMD. On October 4, 2016, Plaintiffs and DreamWorks entered into a settlement agreement, which fully resolves the Class Members’ claims against DreamWorks. Then on January 30, 2017, Plaintiffs and Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/IMD entered into a settlement agreement which fully resolves the Class Members’ claims against Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/ IMD. Because all Defendants have now settled, these Settlements completely resolve the case.

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  6. Is the lawsuit continuing?

    No. DreamWorks, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/IMD have separately agreed to settle this case. In addition, Blue Sky and Sony Pictures have also previously agreed to settle this case. Because all of the Defendants have now agreed to settle this case, no Non-Settling Defendants remain, and this case will be terminated following final approval of the DreamWorks and Disney Settlements. More money will not become available in the future for Class Members as a result of additional settlements with and/or a trial against any Non-Settling Defendants, none of whom still remain.

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  7. Am I a Class Member?

    Animation or visual effects employees who held specific job titles at one or more of the Defendant companies during certain time periods may be Class Members and eligible for a payment from the Settlements when the funds are distributed, if they did not previously opt out of the litigation and if they meet the following class definition:

    All animation and visual effects employees employed by one or more of the Defendants in the United States who held any of the job titles listed in the attached List of Job Titles by Defendant during the following time periods: Pixar (2004–2010), Lucasfilm Ltd., LLC (2004–2010), DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (2004–2010), The Walt Disney Company (2004–2010), Sony Pictures Animation, Inc. and Sony Pictures Imageworks, Inc. (2004–2010), Blue Sky Studios, Inc. (2005–2010) and Two Pic MC LLC f/k/a ImageMovers Digital LLC (2007–2010). Excluded from the Class are senior executives, members of the board of directors, and persons employed to perform office operations or administrative tasks.

    To be in the Class and participate in the Settlements, you must have been an employee and held one or more of the job titles listed on the List of Job Titles by Defendant available here during the time periods mentioned.    

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  8. What if I still don’t know if I’m a Class Member?

    If you received a Notice, it is because you were listed as a potential Class Member. If you are still not sure whether you are included, you can get help at www.animationlawsuit.com.

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  9. Does it make a difference whether I work or worked for DreamWorks, or for Pixar, Lucasfilm, The Walk Disney Company, Two Pic (f/k/a IMD), on the one hand, or Blue Sky or Sony Pictures, on the other hand?

    As long as you fall within the definition of the Settlement Class you can participate in the Settlements, regardless of which Defendant you work or worked for, or whether you have worked for more than one.  Current and former employees of DreamWorks, Blue Sky, Sony Pictures, Two Pic/IMD, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Disney who fall within the definition of the Settlement Class are all Settlement Class Members and are all entitled to receive a payment under the Settlements.  

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  10. What are my rights as a Class Member?

    If you are a Class Member, you have the right to (1) do nothing, in which case you will receive a payment, (2) comment on or object to one or both of the Settlements, (3) opt out of one or both of the Settlements, or (4) attend the Court’s Fairness Hearing to speak in support of or against the Court’s final approval of one or both of the Settlements.

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  11. What if I previously opted out of this litigation?

    After the Court certified the class in this litigation, the Court approved a notice that was sent to class members informing them of their right to opt out of the litigation. If you opted out of this litigation, then you cannot share in the proceeds from either the DreamWorks Settlement or the Disney Settlement, and the Settlements will not release any claims that you may have against DreamWorks or against Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, or Two Pic/IMD. But if you opted out of only a prior settlement with Blue Sky and/or Sony Pictures (and not the litigation), then you still have the right to share in the proceeds from either the DreamWorks Settlement and/or the Disney Settlement. If you don’t know whether you opted out of this litigation, please contact the Claims Administrator to confirm.

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  12. What does the DreamWorks Settlement provide?

    DreamWorks will pay $50,000,000 into a Settlement Fund. After deducting attorneys’ fees, costs, applicable taxes, and other fees and expenses, the Settlement Fund will be distributed to Class Members. In the event monies remain as residue in the Settlement Fund following all distribution efforts approved by the Court and payment of any taxes, Plaintiffs will ask the Court for an order disposing of all such funds, through additional distributions to eligible Class members and/or escheat to the federal government.

    As a Class Member, you are giving up, or “releasing,” any claims that you may have against DreamWorks and the Released Parties in exchange for the right to receive your share of the DreamWorks Settlement Fund. That release includes any claims made or that could have been made against DreamWorks and the Released Parties arising from the facts, activities or circumstances alleged in this lawsuit or any other purported restriction on competition for employment or compensation of Named Plaintiffs or Class Members. The release is described in more detail in the Settlement Agreement, available here.

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  13. What does the Disney Settlement provide?

    Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/IMD will pay $100,000,000 into a Settlement Fund. After deducting attorneys’ fees, costs, applicable taxes, and other fees and expenses, the Settlement Fund will be distributed to Class Members. In the event monies remain as residue in the Settlement Fund following all distribution efforts approved by the Court and payment of any taxes, Plaintiffs will ask the Court for an order disposing of all such funds, through additional distributions to eligible Class Members and/or cy pres distribution as approved by the Court.

    As a Class Member, you are giving up, or “releasing,” any claims that you may have against Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/IMD, and the Released Parties in exchange for the right to receive your share of the Disney Settlement Fund. That release includes any claims made or that could have been made against Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and/or Two Pic/IMD and the Released Parties arising from the facts, activities or circumstances alleged in this lawsuit or any other purported restriction on competition for employment or compensation of Named Plaintiffs or Class Members. The release is described in more detail in the Settlement Agreement, available here.

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  14. How much money can I get from the Settlement?

    Settlement Class Members who do not opt out will be eligible to receive a share of the Settlement Funds, less all applicable reductions based on a formula using the total compensation paid to a Settlement Class Member. In other words, each Settlement Class Member’s share of the Settlement Funds is a fraction, with the Settlement Class Member’s total compensation paid on the basis of employment in a Class Position during the Class Period as the numerator and the total compensation paid to all Settlement Class Members on the basis of employment in a Class Position during the Class Period as the denominator.

    Each Settlement Class Member’s fractional amount shall be multiplied against the Settlement Funds, less court-approved costs, and attorneys’ fees and expenses. The total compensation paid, dates of employment, and whether a potential Settlement Class Member held a Class Position will be conclusively derived from Defendants’ data maintained by their respective human resources departments and will not be subject to challenge by Settlement Class Members. Payments to Settlement Class Members shall not be made until the Effective Date has passed and all objections, collateral challenges or appeals relating to the Settlements have been fully and finally resolved. The proposed Plan of Allocation is available for review at here, and will be presented for approval by the Court at the Fairness Hearing.

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  15. How can I get money from the Settlements?

    You do not need to do anything to receive money from the Settlements. If you fall within the Settlement Class Definition, did not previously opt out of the litigation, and do not opt-out of the Settlements, you will receive money from the Settlements. If you exclude yourself from one or both of the Settlements, you will not receive money from that Settlement.  

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  16. When will I get my payments?

    The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing on May 18, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. to decide whether to approve the Settlements. If the Court approves the Settlements, there still may be appeals of that decision. If an appeal is filed, it is hard to estimate how long it might take for it to be resolved, but it can take a lot of time, perhaps more than a year. Settlement payments to Settlement Class Members will be distributed if the Settlements are approved, and after appeals, if any, are resolved. Updates regarding the Settlements and when payments may be made will be posted on the settlement website, www.animationlawsuit.com

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  17. What am I giving up to get payments under the Settlements?

    If you are a Class Member, unless you exclude yourself from the Settlements, you will remain within the Class, and that means that you can’t sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/IMD or the Released Parties defined in the Notice, about the claims in this case. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you, and that you agree to the “Release of Claims,” which describes exactly the legal claims that you give up if you participate in the Settlements with respect to each Settling Defendant.

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  18. Who represents me as a Class Member in this case?

    The Court appointed the following three law firms as Settlement Class Counsel to represent the Settlement Class:

    Daniel A. Small

    COHEN MILSTEIN SELLERS & TOLL PLLC

    1100 New York Ave. NW, Suite 500

    Washington, DC 20005

    Steve W. Berman

    HAGENS BERMAN SOBOL SHAPIRO LLP

    1918 Eighth Avenue,

    Suite 3300

    Seattle, WA 98101

    Marc M. Seltzer

    SUSMAN GODFREY LLP

    1901 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 950

    Los Angeles, CA 90067-6029

    These lawyers and law firms are called “Plaintiffs’ Counsel.” 

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  19. Should I get my own lawyer?

    You do not need to hire your own lawyer because the Plaintiffs’ Counsel are working on your behalf. If you want your own lawyer, you may hire one, but you will be responsible for any payment for that lawyer’s services. For example, you can ask your lawyer to appear in Court for you if you want someone other than Plaintiffs’ Counsel to speak for you. You may also appear for yourself without a lawyer.

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  20. How will the lawyers be paid?

    Plaintiffs’ Counsel may ask the Court to approve payment from the Settlement Funds for attorneys’ fees, which will not exceed 25 percent of the Settlement Funds.  Plaintiffs’ Counsel will not receive any portion of their fees until the Court approves such a payment. Plaintiffs’ Counsel will also ask the Court to approve payment from the Settlement Funds for their out-of-pocket costs and expenses.  

    In connection with the Disney Settlement, Plaintiffs’ Counsel will also ask the Court to approve payments of up to $80,000 to each of the three individual Class Representatives as Service Awards for their service. In connection with the DreamWorks Settlement, Plaintiffs’ Counsel will ask the Court to approve Service Awards of up to $10,000 each to the three Class Representatives. In connection with the Blue Sky and Sony Pictures Settlements, the Court previously approved payments of $10,000 to each of the three individual Class Representatives as Service Awards for their service.

    The costs of providing the Notice and administering the Settlements are being paid from the Settlement Funds. If the Court grants Counsel’s requests, all fees, costs, and expenses would be deducted from the Settlement Funds. 

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  21. How do I get out of the Settlements?

    If you fall within the Class Definition but don’t want a payment from the Settlements, or if you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, or Two Pic/IMD about the issues in this case (at your own expense), then you must exclude yourself or “opt out” of the respective Settlements. Please read the notice available here for instructions and more information about opting yourself out of the settlements.

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  22. As a Class Member, if I don’t opt out of the Settlements, can I sue the Settling Defendants for the same thing separately by myself?

    No. If you are a Class Member, unless you opt out of the Settlements, you give up the right to sue DreamWorks, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, Two Pic/IMD, and the Released Parties for any claim that the Settlements resolve.

    If you have a pending lawsuit against DreamWorks, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, Two Pic/IMD, or related entities or against any Released Parties defined above, speak to your lawyer in that lawsuit immediately, because you may need to opt out of the respective Settlements to continue your own lawsuit. 

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  23. As a Class Member, if I opt out of one or both of the Settlements, can I get money from that Settlement?

    If you opt out of either Settlement, you will not receive money from that Settlement. If you opt out of the DreamWorks Settlement, you will keep the right to sue DreamWorks on your own about the same claims in the lawsuit should you want to do so. If you opt out of the Disney Settlement, you will keep the right to sue Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and/or Two Pic/IMD on your own about the same claims in the lawsuit should you want to do so.

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  24. How do I tell the Court that I like or don’t like the proposed Settlements, and may I speak at the hearing?

    If you are a Class Member, you can comment on or object to one or both of the Settlements if you like or don’t like any part of the Settlements and ask the Court to deny approval to one or both of the Settlements. You can give reasons why you think the Court should or should not approve them. You cannot ask the Court to order a larger settlement; the Court can only approve or deny the Settlements. If the Court denies approval of either Settlement, no settlement payments will be sent out with respect to that Settlement and the lawsuit will continue against that defendant. If that is what you want to happen, you must object. Please read the notice available here for instructions and more information about objecting to one or both of the settlements.

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  25. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlements?

    The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at May 18, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. at the following courtroom:

    The Honorable Lucy H. Koh
    Courtroom 8, 4th Floor
    The United States District Court for the Northern District of California
    280 S. First Street
    San Jose, California 95113

    At this hearing, the Court will consider the Settlements separately and determine whether they are fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are written comments or objections, the Court will consider them. The Court will decide whether to allow people who have raised objections or comments to speak at the hearing. The Court may also decide how much to award to Plaintiffs’ Counsel in attorneys’ fees and expenses and whether to approve the payment of Service Awards to the Class Representatives. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve either or both Settlements.  We do not know how long this decision will take.

    Fairness Hearings are rarely rescheduled, but you should be sure to check the website, www.animationlawsuit.com, for news of any such changes.

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  26. Do I have to come to the Fairness Hearing?

    No. Plaintiffs’ Counsel will be present at the Fairness Hearing to answer any questions the Court may have. You are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send comments or objections to either Settlement, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you mailed your written comments or objections on time, the Court will consider them. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it is not required.

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  27. What happens if I do nothing at all?

    If you are a Class Member and you do nothing, you will get money from the Settlements and any claims you might have against DreamWorks, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/IMD, and the Released Parties based on the allegations in this case will be released unless you separately write to opt out. In exchange for receiving money from the Settlements, you will give up or “release” your claims against DreamWorks, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/IMD, and the Released Parties in this lawsuit. You will not be able to participate in, or collect money damages from, any other lawsuit against DreamWorks, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney, and Two Pic/IMD or the Released Parties related to any alleged conspiracy to suppress competition or compensation, including agreements to restrict recruiting or hiring or to coordinate compensation, including merit increase budgets and compensation ranges. 

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  28. Will my manager know whether or how I responded to the Notice?

    The Court has appointed an independent, experienced professional Notice and Claims Administrator, Kurtzman Carson Consultants (referred to as “KCC”). The Notice and Claims Administrator will establish and follow procedures to protect the confidentiality of the identity of persons receiving payments or opting out. The Notice and Claims Administrator will issue settlement checks.  The list of those Settlement Class Members receiving checks will not be shared with Defendants, the Court, or Plaintiffs’ counsel.

    The Notice and Claims Administrator will also receive requests to be excluded from either or both of the Settlements.  The Notice and Claims Administrator will be required to share requests to be excluded from the Settlements with Class Counsel and counsel for the Defendants, as well as with the Court.  Objections to the Settlements, as well as the names of those who opt out of the Settlements, will become part of the public record in the court file.

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