This just in: Bill Nye is taking The Walt Disney Company to court. And he says he’s owed millions of dollars.
William Sanford Nye — who you probably remember from Disney’s wildly popular 90s TV show Bill Nye the Science Guy, which ran from 1993 to 1998– is now allowed to take limited claims against the Disney company to trial. The Hollywood Reporter says that this week, a Los Angeles Superior Court entered an order that sets up the trial, which is scheduled for May of next year.
So what’s the scoop, and why is this happening? Well, Bill Nye the Science Guy (or should we say, Bill Nye the Legal Guy?) estimates that he’s owed $28 million in damages because Disney allegedly shortchanged him on profits from his TV show. He also seeks punitive damages, claiming that Disney has “a long and consistent pattern of underreporting revenue and improperly applying deductions.” In short, Nye says that Disney owes him big time — and it doesn’t look like Disney is happy about it.
THR also reports that Disney argues that Nye waited too long to object to participation statements. The company moved to get the case down to an accounting spectacle and an interpretation of the contract. But Nye has fired back, saying that the quarterly profit statements that he received from a Disney subsidiary lacked detail and he was unable to determine if they were complete or even accurate. Nye also says that Disney induced him to spend time and money on an audit and falsely promised he’d be provided with access to the necessary records he sought.
And while this may feel like news to some, this conflict between Nye and Disney is years in the making. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dalila Lyons granted summary judgment to Disney with respect to participation statements issued before January 8, 2011, three years before Nye formally requested an audit. Disney told Nye he had to wait for three to four years before the audit began. Nye also filed a lawsuit back in 2017, and now that we’re approaching 2020, it looks like the trial is finally happening soon.
THR shared that Nye will move forward on the more recent participation statements — and the judge also rejects Disney’s bid to rule out punitive damages. Although, Disney has escaped the claim that the company breached any fiduciary duty to Nye.
“It is our hope that this case, which Disney has fought so hard to stall, will finally shine some light upon the improper accounting practices that Disney utilizes to unjustly deprive profit participants, like our clients, of their fair share of revenues from the programing that they work so hard to create,” said Nye’s lawyers in a statement to Fox.
Disney has yet to publicly comment on the case, although we’ll update you as more information becomes available.