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Disney Will Pay “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” Creator Celador Nearly $270 Million in Damages
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After two and a half days of deliberations, a nine member federal jury unanimously found that Disney subsidiaries, ABC Television, Buena Vista Television, and Valleycrest Productions, Ltd. breached their contract with Celador to share profits from the hugely successful game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. Celador International, Ltd. will receive nearly $270 million in damages.

Filed in 2004, the lawsuit arose over a dispute regarding profits from the game show, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. The show became a hit in 1999 and took ABC from #4 to #1 in network rankings. British company Celador International, Ltd. created the show, and licensed the rights to ABC Television and Buena Vista Television for North America. In return, Celador was to share 50/50 in expected profits from the show. However, based on accountings generated by The Walt Disney Co., the show never made a profit; rather, it generated over $70 million in “losses” for Disney. After a four week trial in Riverside, CA, the jury found otherwise.

In today’s press release at PR Newswire, Paul Smith, chairman of Celador, was quoted as saying: “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.”

  
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Celador’s trial lawyers Roman M. Silberfeld and Bernice Conn, partners with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. in Los Angeles, were quoted as saying: “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.”

Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. is one of the top trial firms in the country. The firm’s clients include numerous Fortune 500 corporations, emerging markets companies, entrepreneurs, and individuals as both plaintiffs and defendants. The firm 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).

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