TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida Governor Rick Scott’s General Counsel Peter Antonacci announced on Wednesday that outside legal counsel has been retained by the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to file suit against Digital Domain and related parties.
In March 2013, the Florida Chief Inspector General issued a report on the 2009 incident where Florida improperly provided $20 million in incentive funding to Digital Domain under the premise that 500 jobs would be created in St. Lucie County.
Digital Domain ultimately created zero jobs and filed for bankruptcy in September 2012. DEO then asked legislators to earmark $500,000 to hire outside counsel to try to recoup at least some of the $20 million in incentives doled out by the state to Digital Domain, the animation company created by Titanic director James Cameron.
Florida is in line with other creditors, though, joining a growing list that includes local and county governments that provided more than $60 million total in land, buildings and other incentives to lure the company to South Florida in 2009 when Charlie Crist was Governor.
“The IG investigation into the 2009 Digital Domain deal revealed that the usual state regulatory processes were circumvented to give Digital Domain tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds, General Counsel Peter Antonacci said in a release. "The collapse of the Digital Domain project, which was promoted by the previous Administration, then left Florida taxpayers on the hook. The state has hired outside counsel to identify any and all legal action available against the company and any other individuals involved in wrongdoing related to this bad deal. We expect to announce specific legal action in the coming weeks.”