A New York firm, responsible for the Space Racer cartoon series, has filed a $1,313,902 claim against the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission (U.S. Space and Rocket Center) in a New York state court. The amount is the result of a binding arbitration final award that holds ASSEC management to blame concerning a NASA grant to continue the cartoon series, in what court documents say was an avenue to “educate children regarding space science and exploration”.
According to court documents, Space Race, LLC (the production company behind the Space Racers series) successfully argued that ASSEC management breached the agreement to produce the series and played an active intentional role in NASA funding being cut. ASSEC firmly denied this claim in arguments made before an arbitration council, and made the claim that Space Race had breached the agreement by accelerating their work schedule. In the end the arbitrators found that ASSEC management had indeed breached the agreement and issued a final award of $1,313,902 plus 6% interest stating that “based on the evidentiary record, we conclude that USSRC’s conduct materially breached its obligations to Space Race under the MOA, materially breached the CAN, and caused Space Race to fail to receive the third year of funding from NASA”.
Space Race has now filed a claim in New York state court on November 11th, 2018 stating that they were seeking the court to “confirm the award of the Tribunal”. Since the initial filing ASSEC has filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that New York courts do not have jurisdiction over a State of Alabama commission, and that ASSEC is subject to sovereign immunity. Specifically, the motion cites the Alabama Constitution that notes “the State of Alabama shall never be made a defendant in any court of law or equity”.
Based on a public discussion in recent meetings of ASSEC’s executive and business committees, the commission appears to be exploring several options in the event they are held liable for the claim. In the December 2018 meeting, the committees entered into an executive session and later approved the hiring of two law firms. One firm to oversee the “New York litigation” and another firm to “pursue recovery from insurance and/or contribution from NASA”. An ASSEC spokesperson declined to comment after the committees hired the two firms.
A more detailed post with a timeline is forthcoming and I will continue to monitor the case. I have provided a few key public documents regarding the arbitration award and related arguments leading to the final award.
Space Racers Arbitration Final Award Document
Space Racers Summons To ASSEC