Jury Decides Disney Must Pay $270 Million to “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” Creator Celador International, Ltd.
The jury unanimously found 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 "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?".
Los Angeles (July 2010) - 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 "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?". In reaching its verdict in Celador International Ltd. v. Walt Disney Co., the nine member jury also unanimously found that the Defendants breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing they owed to Celador. The jury deliberated for two and a half days before reaching its verdict.
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, 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.
Paul Smith, chairman of Celador, said, "I am pleased that justice has been done and thank the jury for their wisdom and the time they have taken to consider this complex case."
"We are delighted with the jury's decision. Whether the parties are worldwide business conglomerates or two neighborhood businesses, a contract is a contract. The jury agreed that Disney's secret deals, and accounting maneuvers were not lawful" said Celador's trial lawyers Roman M. Silberfeld and Bernice Conn, partners with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. in Los Angeles.
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