Leslie Benzies, the former head of Rockstar North, has hit a bump in his lawsuit against Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two. Benzies was seeking $150 million over a royalty and profit sharing dispute. However, the New York Supreme Court has ruled that he is not entitled to the amount he is asking.
According to GamesIndustry.biz, the lawsuit was instigated by a 2009 profit-sharing agreement he signed when he was made a Rockstar Principal for his work as Producer on the Grand Theft Auto series. Benzies believed as a principal in the company he was entitled to an equal share in profits from the wildly successful game.
However, according to the ruling, the agreement was “unambiguous” and did not guarantee him a share equal to Rockstar co-founders Sam and Dan Houser. The court stipulated that the contract provides for “discretionary royalty payments.” Apparently, there is nothing in the agreement mandating that principals be paid equally.
"The 2009 Royalty Plan provides for discretionary royalty payments by the Allocation Committee and contains no language mandating equal payments to the principals."
The court’s decision was undoubtedly a disappointment for Benzies, but all is not lost. While the ruling denies him the full amount that he is asking for, it also states that the former exec “remains entitled to receive certain royalties” that should have been paid to him.
How much he is to receive was not explicitly mentioned, but part of the award stems from a breach of a 2012 employment contract. According to the 2012 agreement, Benzies is owed for salary and stock that he claims were withheld.
Considering that Grand Theft Auto V officially became “the most profitable entertainment product of all time,” even beating out Star Wars, Benzies should still be looking at a sizable payday.