Former Infinity Ward Employees Sue Activision
The steady stream of employees departing Infinity Ward for the newly-formed Respawn Entertainment received an exclamation mark today. G4 is reporting that a group of 38 plaintiffs identifying themselves as the "Infinity Ward Employee Group" has filed suit against Activision, alleging breach of contract and other complaints.
"Activision owes my clients approximately $75 million to $125 million dollars," said Wyman & Issacs LLP attorney Bruce Issacs.
He continued, "Activision has withheld most of the money to force many of my people to stay, some against their will, so that they would finish the delivery of Modern Warfare 3. That is not what they wanted to do. Many of them. My clients entitled to their money. Activision has no right to withhold their money -- our money."
The list of plaintiffs comprises developers who have departed Infinity Ward, many of whom have joined the newly-formed Respawn Entertainment. The group is seeking unpaid bonuses, alleging that Activision still owes $54 million from 2009 profits alone. They are also looking to recover between $75 million and $125 million in damages, saying they are owed money for technology royalties and lost value on promised restricted stock units, among other things.
The IWEG puts their case in stark terms, "Activision withheld the property of the IWEG in an attempt to keep the employees hostage so that Activision could reap the benefit of the completion of Modern Warfare 3."
This suit follows the one filed by former Infinity Ward execs Jason West and Vince Zampella, who filed suit for wrongful termination after being fired in early March. They have since formed Respawn Entertainment, with Electronic Arts acting as their sole distributor.
Activision has made it clear in previous statements that bonus money is reserved for those who have opted to stay with Infinity Ward.
"Activision is not pocketing that bonus money; its still going to the people who work at IW. But you have to work at IW to get it, see?" Activision blogger Dan Amrich wrote on April 22.
The new lawsuit alleges that Activision violated the California Labor Code by failing to pay the agreed upon bonuses, saying that the only condition for their payment was delivering Modern Warfare 2 on time for the November 10 launch.
"Activision has a duty to pay all of the members of the IWEG all of the money they are owed [...] within 72 hours of the termination of their employment," the lawsuit reads. "Activision, however, has failed to do so."