A federal jury in Riverside, Calif., delivered a Hollywood ending for Celador International and its lawyers at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi on Wednesday, awarding the company $269.2 million in its suit against the Walt Disney Co. over royalties from the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
Celador created “Millionaire” over a decade ago and sold the U.S. rights to the hit show to Disney’s ABC network in 1999. But since at least 2004 Celador has been battling Disney over allegations that ABC and another Disney unit engaged in a byzantine “Hollywood accounting” scheme to hide profits from the show and avoid sharing them with Celador.
Disney, which was represented at the trial by Martin Katz and Whitney Walters of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, said in a statement: “We believe this verdict is fundamentally wrong and will aggressively seek to have it reversed.”
Celador’s lead lawyer, Robins Kaplan’s Roman Silberfeld, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that the verdict laid bare the “stunning” reality of studio accounting methods, which have become increasingly opaque as the same corporations control both production and distribution under so-called vertical integration. “I think the next time that a studio wants to use some creative accounting mechanism, they’re going to think twice,” Silberfeld told the newspaper.
Our colleagues at The Am Law Litigation Daily will have more on the verdict — and the lawyers behind it — later today.
This article first appeared on The Am Law Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.