Celador Awarded $50 Million in Prejudgment Interest on Disney Verdict
Los Angeles (September 2010) - On September 27, 2010, Judge Virginia A. Phillips of the United States District Court for the Central District of California awarded $50 million in prejudgment interest to Celador International, Ltd. in addition to damages of $269,431,798 awarded to Celador on July 7, 2010 by a jury in Riverside California.
The Order issued after Disney stipulated formally to Celador's entitlement to $50,000,000 in prejudgment interest rather than leave it up Judge Phillips to decide the amount owed to Celador. Disney also agreed not to challenge Celador's right to prejudgment interest and will not appeal the $50,000,000 award. This results in a total judgment against Disney of $319,431,798. Additional litigation costs may yet be awarded to Celador.
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. The show 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 "Our litigation objectives - to receive what we were fairly entitled to under our contract and to be made substantially whole - have been realized by the verdict and this agreement with Disney. We look forward to prevailing in the appellate court as well."
Celador's trial lawyers Roman M. Silberfeld and Bernice Conn, partners with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. in Los Angeles said, "We are pleased that Disney recognized the wisdom of reaching this agreement rather than incurring the cost of litigating the prejudgment interest issue in the trial and appellate courts."