TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — This summer Florida should begin receiving payments from bankruptcy settlement it reached with failed digital effects company which promised to create 500 jobs at a Port St. Lucie animation studio and a West Palm Beach film school.READ MORE: Seminoles Suspend Sports Betting After Court Rulings
In 2009 the state agreed to invest $20 million with Digital Domain to make that happen. But the company filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
State and local governments in April reached a settlement in a complicated legal battle that involved filings in bankruptcy court as a well as a civil lawsuit filed in St. Lucie County. A bankruptcy judge approved the settlement earlier this month.
Under the settlement, which was first reported by TCPalm.com, Florida will receive an estimated $5 million, but only about $3 million is expected go back to taxpayers. That’s because lawyers hired by the Scott administration were entitled to 25 percent of any money won by the state. Other court costs and fees also need to be paid off, according to Erin Gillespie, a spokeswoman for the Department of Economic Opportunity.
During the more than two-year-old legal fight, Florida has also gotten back the rights to $20 million in film production tax credits that were initially pledged to Digital Domain.READ MORE: 23rd Annual 'A Home For The Holidays At The Grove' Comes To CBS On Sunday, December 5th
“The bottom line is that we got the state back money they never thought they would get,” said William Scherer, the Fort Lauderdale attorney who led the legal battle for the state.
While Florida’s lawsuit contended the initial deal to benefit Digital Domain was a “de facto Ponzi scheme,” the Scott administration’s own inspector general concluded that no laws were broken.
Cissy Proctor, the executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said in a statement that the state has restructured its incentive program to “ensure a deal like this doesn’t happen again.”
The demise of Digital Domain has been constantly cited by critics of Florida’s incentives program. State legislators this year rejected a proposal by Gov. Rick Scott to set aside $250 million for business incentives.MORE NEWS: Sharp Increase In Hospitalized Children With Covid Investigated In South Africa
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