'Millionaire' judge awards Celador $50M in interest

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'Millionaire' judge awards Celador $50M in interest

Mon Sep 27, 2010 @ 01:13PM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Millionaire The Walt Disney Co. just took another hit in the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" case.

Months after losing a high-profile $270 million jury verdict to "Millionaire" producer Celador over profits from the hit show, Judge Virginia A. Phillips has now awarded an additional $50 million in pre-judgment interest. That brings the total damages to about $320 million.

Disney actually agreed to the $50 million number, and it could have been much higher. California law provides for a 10% rate on prejudgment interest per year, which, going back as many as six years, could have amounted to more than triple the $50 million if Judge Phillips were to calculate it on her own (Celador had initially pushed for $170 million in interest). If the judgment gets overturned, the pre-judgment interest would be reduced, of course, but Disney has agreed not to challenge the $50 million number initially. 

As you'll recall, a jury ruled in July that Disney and its ABC division shortchanged Celador in calculating the amount of profits owed on "Millionaire," which was a major hit for ABC. The jury verdict is the largest in the history of Hollywood accounting cases.

Disney filed its post-trial motions on Friday seeking to overturn the jury decision. If Judge Phillips upholds the verdict, Disney has said it will appeal the decision.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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