Looks like Disney has hit a legal brick wall in the $319 million Who Wants To Be A Millionaire case. The company today was denied a new trial in the matter by the three-judge 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In their order Monday, the trio rejected efforts of “the Disney affiliates” — ABC, Buena Vista TV and Valleycrest Productions — to appeal U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ initial December 2010 denial of an appeal in the case. “We are extremely disappointed with the decision, as ABC and Buena Vista Television continue to believe that they fully adhered to the Millionaire agreement,” a Disney spokesman told Deadline. “I’m extremely pleased for the client Celador, my team of lawyers and I’m gratified that the Court of Appeal saw fit today to affirm a carefully crafted trial,” attorney Roman Silberfeld said today.
Citing “a cascading series of errors” in the original 2010 case, Disney was seeking a new trial in hopes of overturning the $319 million Millionaire creators Celador was awarded. In 2010, a jury agreed with Celador that Disney breached the contract between the company and the company’s TV divisions. Despite the likes of Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger taking the stand, the Riverside, CA jury awarded Celador $269 million in damages; Phillips added $50 million in pre-judgment interest. Disney lawyers said from the very beginning they would appeal.
UK production company Celador International originally filed suit against Disney in 2004, claiming that Disney and its TV subsidiaries had engaged in sleight-of-hand deals to deny the creators of the international Who Wants To Be A Millionaire franchise their fair share of profits from the U.S. version of the show. In December 2010, Philips refused Disney’s bid to overturn the verdict. That denial led to Disney arguing their case before the judges in early October.