Is Disney Getting Low on Lifelines? Judge Denies Disney’s Request to Overturn Verdict in ‘Millionaire’ Case That Awarded $319 Million to the Show’s Creators

Dec 22, 2010  •  Post A Comment

Walt Disney Co. was rebuffed in its efforts to overturn a verdict awarding $319 million in damages and interest to the creators of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," reports the Los Angeles Times’ Company Town blog.

Federal district court judge Virginia Phillips denied Disney’s motion to either throw out the verdict or order a new trial, the story says. Disney has 30 days to appeal the decision, and the company pledged to continue to litigate the dispute, the article notes.

The case stems from 2004, when the British creators of the show, Celador International, sued Disney, claiming that it had been denied its ability to profit from the game show’s success. Celador claimed that the show only appeared to be losing money because of a series of "sweetheart deals" struck between Disney-owned companies, even though the program became ABC’s first top-rated show in more than a decade, the story notes.

Disney had argued in its attempt to either throw out the verdict or get a new trial that the judge made errors while admitting or excluding evidence, including one email from former Disney Chairman Michael Eisner, in which he estimated the show’s value to ABC as "$1 billion, wild guess, maybe more," the article says.

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