Smithsonian Dinosaurs IMAX Movie Lawsuit: A Battle Over $225,000

11/29/2011 05:30 pm ET | Updated Nov 29, 2011

WASHINGTON -- Dinosaurs are wreaking havoc in the nation's capital, thanks in part, perhaps, to shoddy bookkeeping by the Smithsonian Institution.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is trying to recover money that the Smithsonian contends it mistakenly paid to the producers of "Dinosaurs 3D: Giants of Patagonia."

Under its contract with the movie's producers, a Florida outfit called Comet Distribution Ltd., the Smithsonian was to pay two $300,000 payments -- $600,000 in total -- for a 50-year license to show the IMAX film.

Evidently, the Smithsonian needs a better bookkeeping system. In 2008, according to Legal Times, it sent an extra $300,000 payment to Comet, then tried to get the money back. Comet's president allegedly sent back $75,000. In a complaint filed in April, the United States is asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to order Comet to return the remaining $225,000.

Until now, for a procedural reason prosecutors were unable to move forward with the lawsuit -- Comet's designated agent to receive service allegedly moved, and then no one could find this person's new address -- and the case was on the verge of being dismissed.

But there's a happy ending for the U.S. government: The procedural problem was resolved. Comet's service agent was tracked down in Dade City, Fla., and service was completed on Monday, according to prosecutors.

Patagonian dinosaurs include the giant plant-eating Futalognkosaurus dukei, an even more enormous herbivore called the Argentinosaurus and one of the largest known carnivores, the aptly-named Giganotosaurus.

"Dinosaurs 3D: Giants of Patagonia" is playing at the IMAX theater in the National Museum of Natural History (10th Street NW and Constitution Avenue) Buy tickets here.

RELATED VIDEO: A clip from 'Dinosaurs 3D: Giants of Patagonia'

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