Arbitration Ordered in ‘Toon Studio Class Action


     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – A plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against several major animation studios must arbitrate his dispute with DreamWorks, a federal judge ruled.
     Robert Nitsch sued several animation studios, including DreamWorks, last September for allegedly stifling competition by agreeing not to cold-call each others’ employees and by setting wage and salary ranges among themselves.
     The suit, which was consolidated with two similar cases, was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh earlier this month, but the plaintiffs were given a chance to file an amended complaint.
     An amended complaint has not yet been filed.
     However, in a new order stemming from a motion to compel arbitration filed by the defendants in January, Koh ruled that Nitsch is bound to an arbitration agreement with DreamWorks.
     Nitsch worked at Dreamworks from 2007 to 2011.
     The judge ruled that Nitsch must arbitrate his claims that arise from his employment at the company, and stayed prosecution of his claims until the arbitration process is complete.
     Koh did deny the other defendants’ arbitration requests as to Nitsch, who also worked for Sony Pictures Imageworks in 2004, finding that Nitsch’s claims against the other studios are independent from any employment agreement involving arbitration that he signed with Dreamworks.
     The defendants in the suit are DreamWorks, Disney, Lucasfilm, Pixar, ImageMovers, Two Pic MC, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Blue Sky Studios.
     It’s unclear what will happen to the arbitration order if the case is ultimately dismissed.
     Nitsch’s attorney Daniel Small of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll in Washington D.C. and DreamWorks’ attorney Daniel Swanson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles could not be reached for comment by press time.
     
     Contact Arvin Temkar at sanfran@courthousenews.com

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