Key GTA developer accuses publisher, Houser brothers of forcing him from company, withholding royalties [UPDATE: Benzies owed nothing, says TTWO]
Former Rockstar North studio head Leslie Benzies is suing the company for $150 million alleging "numerous deceptions" from Take-Two, Rockstar, and Sam and Dan Houser. Christopher Bakes, a partner with the Locke Lord law firm representing Benzies, issued a statement regarding the suit today, saying Rockstar's official story of how he left the Grand Theft Auto studio was a lie.
In September of 2014, Benzies went on sabbatical from Rockstar North. This January, the studio released a statement saying he decided not to return to work.
"In fact, when attempting to resume his duties upon conclusion of his sabbatical on April 1, 2015, Mr. Benzies found himself unable to enter the Rockstar North office because his facilities access device had been deactivated," Bakes said. "After being let inside by building security, Mr. Benzies was then ordered to leave by the Rockstar North office manager without reason."
The lawsuit also accuses the Houser brothers of trying to force Benzies from the company and unjustly terminating $150 million in royalty payments "based upon arbitrary actions by the company's royalty Allocation Committee, a committee that may or may not have actually ever met." Benzies' complaints also were personal in nature, accusing Sam Houser specifically of "mounting resentment" that Benzies received the same compensation from Take-Two as the Houser brothers.
[UPDATE]: More details of the suit are available here.
[UPDATE 2]: A counter-suit from Take-Two and Rockstar is now available to peruse here. In the 10-page document, Take-Two and Rockstar claim that they "have sought unsuccessfully to resolve this issue through mediation and now seek judicial clarification that would resolve this controversy." They also deny that Benzies had any good reason to leave Rockstar North.