Disney EchoEar Grand Mouseter
Joined: Aug. 2001
||Posted: Dec. 01, 2003 7:54 am/pm
Quoting CBS marketwatch.com and Reuters News Service:
UPDATE 1-O.J. attorney to battle Disney over Pooh
12/1/2003 7:35:58 PM
(Adds Disney comment, details)
By Peter Henderson
LOS ANGELES, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The family suing Walt Disney Co. (DIS) over Winnie the Pooh royalties on Monday hired celebrity attorney Johnnie Cochran, who headed the legal "dream team" that won a murder acquittal for O.J. Simpson, to take their case against Disney.
The Disney battle now pits two lawyers who both won cases in the O.J. Simpson trials against each other in a case that Disney has said could cost it hundreds of millions of dollars if it lost.
Cochran won the acquittal of the former football star on double-murder charges while Daniel Petrocelli, who now represents Disney, convinced a civil court jury that Simpson was responsible for the 1994 murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and and her friend, Ron Goldman.
Through Stephen Slesinger Inc., the Slesinger family holds the U.S. merchandising rights to the honey-loving bear, which Disney licenses, selling all sorts of Pooh products.
The Slesingers accuse Disney of shortchanging them on royalty payments, and have changed lead lawyers twice this year and a number of times before in their decade-old lawsuit against the media giant.
Disney has been on the offensive in the case recently with a motion accusing the Slesinger side of stealing documents during the discovery process, and on Monday it said it was eager to move the case forward.
The Slesingers have denied that they stole any documents.
Cochran replaces law firm Jones Day, which was dismissed after only a few weeks on the case by the family, citing high costs. Prominent Los Angeles lawyer Bert Fields, who represented former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg in a separate suit against Disney, left the Pooh case earlier in the summer without explanation.
Patrick Cathcart of Hancock, Rothert & Bunshoft will join Cochran, the Slesingers said.
"We are honored to have Mr. Cochran and Mr. Cathcart on our team," said Pati Slesinger, the daughter of literary agent Stephen Slesinger, who acquired the rights to Pooh from British author A.A. Milne.
Disney spokesman John Spelich said the entertainment conglomerate was ready to go. "Disney is eager, as it has been, to move this case forward to a hearing on Disney's long-pending motion for sanctions against Stephen Slesinger, Inc., for discovery misconduct."
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