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Artist Rights

Digital Domain Deal Is Target of Major Florida Lawsuit (Updated)

UPDATE (JULY 22, 2014): Today we briefly interviewed John Textor, who was concerned about some of the characterizations in the original piece. Cartoon Brew expresses regret about any inadvertent inaccuracies in the story. The piece below has been updated to accurately reflect the facts in Florida State’s legal actions against Digital Domain. Textor has also agreed to be interviewed by Cartoon Brew at a later date about his role at Digital Domain.

The actions of Digital Domain, led by disgraced former CEO John Textor, will become the subject of a lawsuit by the state of Florida. Textor, as you may recall from our coverage a few years back, was the ringleader of a fiasco that ruined hundreds of lives, used $130 million dollars of Florida taxpayer funds, and tried to force animation students into questionable labor arrangements.

UPDATE: Florida State Files Lawsuit; Alleges Digital Domain Cheated Taxpayers Out of $80 Million

Florida governor Rick Scott, has appointed outside legal counsel led by litigator Bill Scherer to investigate why their state gave Digital Domain more than a hundred million dollars in public funds. For that amount, Textor had promised to open up a school called the Digital Domain Institute, and to create a new film studio, Tradition, to produce high-end animated films.

While both of those projects happened, Digital Domain Institute never graduated any students and the studio never made a film. By the time of Digital Domain’s spectacular collapse in 2012, the only thing Digital Domain had accomplished was creating the biggest job-incentive-program flop in Florida state history.

John Textor was the former CEO of Digital Domain.

The goal of the new investigation is “to identify any and all legal action available against the company and any other individuals involved in wrongdoing related to this bad deal,” according to the governor’s general counsel Peter Antonacci. The State expects to announce legal action in the coming weeks.

The case won’t be an easy one. While the state’s general counsel claims that “the usual state regulatory processes were circumvented to give Digital Domain tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds,” a 2013 state report (read it HERE) concluded that there were “no apparent violations of law, rule, or regulation in the award” of economic development incentive funds received by Digital Domain.

“It sounds like the Governor hasn’t read his own report,” Textor said about the new investigation. “The State IG Report clearly states that Digital Domain was fully vetted by Enterprise Florida and the Legislative Budget Commission, and properly approved for funding. Given the timing, this is clearly an election ploy targeted at the Crist administration.”

To lear more about Textor’s mismanagement of Digital Domain, read these Miami New Times and FXGuide pieces.