As Los Angeles and Orange County Labor and Employment Attorneys, we have been following the recent news that video game makers Vince Zampella and Jason West are suing Activision Publishing, Inc. for breach of contract and wrongful termination.
West and Zampella are video game developers who produced the hugely successful Call of Duty, and Modern Warfare at the Encino, California-based company Infinity Ward, a studio they started in 2001. Activision reportedly bought Infinity Ward in 2003 for $5 million, and West and Zampella agreed to three-year employment contracts, as president and CEO.
After Infinity Ward's release of the hugely successful fourth game in the series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in 2008, Zampella and West reportedly extended their contract with Activision through 2011. The extension allegedly included additional royalties, other payments, and the right to control the company independently, with the right to creative control over any Call of Duty games that take place after the Vietnam War, or any Modern Warfare sequels.
According to the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, West and Zampella were wrongfully terminated on Monday, a few weeks before being paid significant royalty payments that were pary of their contracts for the game Modern Warfare 2, that was released in November and has generated retail sales of more than $1 billion.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Activision spearheaded an investigation of Zampella and West last month for alleged 'breaches of contract,' as well as 'insubordination' and 'breach of fiduciary duty,' and violation of policies within Activision, that ended with their termination on Monday.
Zampella and West's lawsuit claims breach of contract, wrongful termination and violating public policy, declaratory relief, and breach of fair dealing and good faith. The lawsuit asks the for creative control over all Modern Warfare games. They also ask to keep Activision from releasing any Call of Duty games that take place after the period of the Vietnam War without their approval, and seek to be compensated for unpaid monetary damages and royalties in excess of $36 million.
Fired 'Call of Duty' Developers Sue Activision for More than $36 Million, Los Angeles Times, March 4. 2010
2 Top Executives Leave Video Game Maker Infinity Ward, Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2010
Jason West and Vince Zampella File Lawsuit Against Activision, PR Newswire, March 3, 2010
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