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Court Denies Disney Request for Review

LOS ANGELES (February  2013) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today unanimously denied Disney’s Petition for rehearing and review of the $320 million jury verdict and judgment in favor of Celador International, Ltd. None of the 28 active Judges on the Ninth Circuit asked for a vote to consider rehearing by the full court.  The Judgment in favor of Celador is the largest verdict in Hollywood history in a profit-sharing dispute.

The lawsuit, filed in 2004, arose over a dispute regarding profits from the highly successful game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" which became a smash hit in 1999 and took ABC from #4 to #1 in network rankings. The show was created by British company Celador International, Ltd. which licensed the rights to ABC Television and Buena Vista Television for North America. In return, Celador was to share fifty-fifty in expected profits from the show. But based on accountings generated by The Walt Disney Co., not only did the show − which aired on ABC for three years and has been in syndication for ten years − never make a profit, it generated over $70 million in "losses" for Disney. The jury found otherwise after a four week trial in Riverside, Calif.

On July 7, 2010, a federal jury awarded Celador International, Ltd. $269.4 million in damages after unanimously finding that Disney subsidiaries − ABC Television, Buena Vista Television, and Valleycrest Productions, Ltd. − had breached their contract with Celador to share profits from the enormously successful game show. In reaching its verdict, the nine member jury also unanimously found that the Defendants breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing that they owed to Celador. On September 27, 2010, the U.S. District Court awarded $50 million in prejudgment interest to Celador, bringing the total to $320 million in damages.

On December 21, 2010, the U.S. District Court denied Walt Disney Co.'s bid to overturn the jury verdict, and on December 3, 2012, a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the jury’s verdict. Following today’s denial of Disney’s Petition for Rehearing by a full panel of the Ninth Circuit, Disney’s final resort  is to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

About Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P.

Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. is a litigation firm whose clients include numerous Fortune 500 corporations, emerging markets companies, entrepreneurs, and individuals as both plaintiffs and defendants. Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. is frequently engaged in high-stakes, complex litigation with significant bottom-line implications for their clients, and the business lawyers handle complex transactions in a variety of market segments. The firm has more than 250 lawyers located in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York and Naples (FL).

Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. received The National Law Journal’s 2011 Pro Bono Award and was selected as a Pro Bono Firm of 2010 by Law360. The American Lawyer ranked the firm eighth in the country in the 2011 Pro Bono Survey, and twice named the firm to the A-List (2007 and 2004). The firm has regularly received a top ranking for litigation from Chambers USA and was chosen as a “Go-To Law Firm” by Corporate Counsel.

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