“The Walt Disney Company prevailed on Monday in a 13-year legal dispute over royalties related to its Winnie the Pooh franchise when a judge dismissed the case, contending the plaintiff altered confidential memorandums and covered up the theft of documents obtained by a private investigator who sifted through the company’s trash. Judge Charles W. McCoy of Los Angeles Superior Court wrote in his decision that the misconduct of the Slesinger family, which sued Disney in 1991 after contending the company cheated it out of royalty fees, was ‘so egregious that no remedy short of terminating sanctions’ would adequately protect Disney and the justice system from further abuse.” The family is vowing to appeal (Laura Holson, “After 13 Years, Judge Dismisses Case on Pooh Bear Royalties”, New York Times, Mar. 30). Earlier in the case, Disney had drawn sanctions “for deliberately destroying 40 boxes of documents that could have been relevant to the case, including a file marked ‘Winnie the Pooh-legal problems'”; see “The Document-Shredding Facility at Pooh Corner”, Aug. 24-26, 2001. For more on the propensity of some investigators retained in litigation to rifle adversaries’ garbage and commit other invasions of privacy, see Nov. 11, 2003 (FBI probe of Hollywood lawyers); Jul. 28-30, 2000 (Terry Lenzner, Oracle). More: Southern California Law Blog has followed the case.
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