Alabama Supreme Court rules against US Space & Rocket Center in animated series dispute

MADISON COUNTY, Alabama (WHNT) – The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Thursday against the Alabama Space Exhibitions Commission, ASSEC, which oversees Space Camp, in a long-standing dispute with a New York-based company about an animated series.

The court sided with Space Race, LLC and ordered a Madison County circuit judge to dismiss ASSEC’s claims challenging Space Race’s $ 1.36 million award by a New York referee for the animation work she had produced but had not received payment.

In its ruling on Thursday, the court explained the background to the dispute:

Read the full court decision here:

ASSEC signed an agreement with Space Race in July 2016 to create a television show aimed at promoting space interest in children.

In the agreement, ASSEC was to pay Space Race with funding from NASA at the end of each year of the three-year contract. The show had a successful first season, and Space Race went on to create two more seasons.

After not receiving more than a million dollars in payment from ASSEC and a notification that they would not pay, Space Race filed an arbitration complaint in December 2017.

ASSEC notified Space Race that it could not pay the balance due to the end of the NASA grant. But Space Race said ASSEC failed to provide the proper documentation for funding to continue.

Arbitrators said ASSEC intentionally severed the agreement with Space Race and awarded the balance to Space Race, court documents show.

In February 2019, ASSEC requested that the sentence be quashed in Alabama, but the case was put on hold due to the ongoing proceedings in New York. New York declined to consider ASSEC’s appeal and again ruled in favor of Space Race.

ASSEC’s efforts to ask a Madison County circuit court to overturn the prize have been challenged by Space Race. Attorneys for ASSEC have argued that ASSEC is an agency of the state of Alabama and is immune from prosecution under the concept of sovereign immunity.

Space Race’s request to have the ASSEC lawsuit dismissed was dismissed by Madison County Circuit Judge Claude Hundley in May. Hundley’s decision was appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court, which released its decision Thursday. The decision included instructions that the trial court should dismiss ASSEC’s claims.

The state Supreme Court noted that the New York court had held a full hearing on ASSEC’s sovereign immunity claims and ruled that ASSEC should not be viewed as the equivalent of ASSEC. State of Alabama.

News 19 has contacted Space & Rocket Center for comment. A spokesperson said they are not commenting on the disputes.

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