Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday won an important appeals court ruling in its 16-year battle with a family that holds the lucrative merchandising rights to Winnie the Pooh.Ouch.
The three-judge panel upheld Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charles W. McCoy's 2004 decision, which dismissed the state court lawsuit brought by the family of Stephen Slesinger.
McCoy took the extraordinary step of terminating the case after he found that the Slesinger family tried to gain an edge in the litigation by stealing confidential Disney documents from trash and then lying and altering court papers to cover up the thefts.
Stephen Slesinger obtained merchandising rights to the silly old bear in 1930 from the author of the Pooh stories, A.A. Milne. When Slesinger died more than 50 years ago, the Pooh merchandising rights were passed to his widow and young daughter.
Attorneys hired by Slesinger's daughter, Patricia Slesinger, had tried to argue that McCoy did not have the power to throw out the family's case. But, in what some attorneys say is a precedent-setting ruling, the appellate court found otherwise.
"We hold that when a plaintiff's deliberate and egregious misconduct makes any sanction other than dismissal inadequate to ensure a fair trial, the trial court has inherent power to impose a terminating sanction," the 54-page ruling concluded.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Disney Wins Pooh Case
Winnie-the-Pooh that is. I didn't know that rights concerning Winnie-the-Pooh were being litigated, but Howard Bashman has the story. From the L.A. Times story: