New York City has joined the growing list of entities and individuals suing game publisher Activision Blizzard.
The lawsuit, filed last week in Delaware and first reported by Axios on Wednesday, is from the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and various pension funds representing civil servants and city employees, including teachers, firefighters and law enforcement.
The groups own Activision Blizzard stock as part of retirement plans for city employees. They're now accusing the game company and its CEO, Bobby Kotick, of harming the value of their investments due to the the company's various sexual harassment and discrimination allegations and the decision to sell the company to Microsoft. The Wall Street Journal reported in November that Kotick was well aware of the misconduct issues at his company, and the article helped spur acquisition talks with Microsoft.
The suit says Kotick rushed to sell the company to Microsoft late last year to as "a means to escape liability for their egregious breaches of fiduciary duty." While the sale price of $95 a share is above what it was when the Microsoft acquisition was announced in January, the suit argues that's roughly where the stock was trading before the summer. That's when California filed its sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the company and kicked off a series of related lawsuits and investigations into the publisher's treatment of female employees.
“Given Kotick’s personal responsibility and liability for Activision’s broken workplace, it should have been clear to the Board that he was unfit to negotiate a sale of the Company, but it wasn't," the suit reads. New York City officials are now demanding Activision Blizzard open its books, including detailing documents and negotiations related to its sale to Microsoft that includes other potential buyers and whether and to what extent Kotick was indeed aware of the scope of the company's misconduct issues.