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West and Zampella Case Likely To Go To Trial

West and Zampella Case Likely To Go To Trial

June 17, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

The lawsuit filed by Infinity Ward co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella against Activision on allegations of fraud may go to trial, as a judge has determined there is factual merit to their claims.

On Thursday a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled (via The Hollywood Reporter) that there are facts to support the duo's allegations that Activision defrauded the former Call of Duty studio heads by firing them before substantial royalties from Modern Warfare 2 were due.

West and Zampella are charging that Activision had plans from the beginning to fire them in order to avoid making these payments.

The duo first filed a lawsuit against Activision last year, citing a "breach of contract" following their abrupt firing. Fraud allegations were added to the suit earlier this year, with West and Zampella explaining that Infinity Ward's acquisition by Activision included a Memorandum of Understanding contract requiring that the duo retain control over the "look, feel and brand for the Modern Warfare games" as long as they remained employed by the company.

Allegedly, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick told the pair during negotiations, "Don't worry about it. It's impossible for you guys to get fired."

In addition to damages, the pair are seeking an annulment of the original contract, which would see them co-owning the Modern Warfare brand with Activision, and giving them rights to make new games in the series.

Tuesday's ruling means that Activision will have to answer to these charges, and that West and Zampella's attorney Robert Schwartz will be able to question Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

"That can't be good for Activision. They can't be happy about this," Schwartz told USA Today.

According to Schwartz, the current discovery period could last several more months, after which a trial may take place.

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