Former Grand Theft Auto producer and game developer Leslie Benzies has suffered a setback in his royalty lawsuit against Take-Two Interactive. Benzies left the company's Rockstar Games studio in 2015.
Benzies filed the lawsuit in 2016 when he claimed $150 million US in unpaid royalties, alleging that the company forced him out after he took a 17-month sabbatical after the launch of Grand Theft Auto V.
The initial lawsuit documents featured several interesting e-mail exchanges that not only showed the close connection between Benzies and the Houser brothers, it also gave an insight in the chaotic way Rockstar Games was managed and how it developed titles.
"PLEASE help me/us get RDR [Ed: Red Dead Redemption] into shape. I am a jabbering wreck right now. I need The Benz!" and "The ups and downs are VERY extreme. We have to fix this. Quickly. Help! I'm freaking." were just some of the quotes appearing to portray a desperate Sam Houser requesting help with the studio's upcoming 2010 release of Red Dead Redemption.
Benzies signed a long-term agreement with Take-Two Interactive in 2008 after the release of Grand Theft Auto IV that would function as an "incentive compensation program" that was based on profit sharing.
In Benzies eyes, this contract would provide payment from parent company Take-Two Interactive that was to be identical to that of the Houser brothers. The New York Supreme Court has now dismissed those claims.
In a March 29, 2018, ruling the court states that it agrees with defendants [Ed: Take-Two Interactive] that the agreement does not contain language mandating equal payments to the principals.
The decision is a major setback for Benzies because it may render the majority of his claims invalid. However, the court also states it has declined to dismiss claims based on the studio's 2012 Employment Agreement which states that the employee "remains entitled to receive certain royalties".
Furthermore, the court has dismissed various other claims, such as Benzies' unjust enrichment claim, because sufficient evidence to back them up was apparently not provided.
Benzies left Rockstar North in late 2015. He is currently working on the upcoming video game Everywhere. The exact details on that game have yet to be revealed.