Quicksummer Entertainment LLC

Pooh Heirs: Oh, Bother!

The Walt Disney Co., mired in controversy over management issues and facing a shareholders revolt, finally got some good news Monday as a Los Angeles judge threw out a case brought against it by the heirs of Stephen Slesinger, holders of the Winnie the Pooh rites, a case that has plodded through the judicial system for more than 13 years. In his ruling, Superior Court Judge Charles McCoy Jr. agreed that the Slesinger plaintiffs had stolen Disney documents, representing "a substantial threat to the integrity of the judicial process" and misconduct that required "decisive, effective and stern sanctions." The plaintiffs had admitted removing documents pertaining to the case from trash dumpsters located outside the Disney studio lot. But the judge appeared convinced that a private investigator that the plaintiffs had hired also retrieved documents from inside the studio and from the premises of a trash hauler that shredded Disney's business documents. At one point he remarked that the Slesingers' detective "does not impress the court as a person who considers himself constrained by trespass laws." The Slesingers vowed to appeal, saying, "This decision unfortunately sends a strong message to corporate America that it is OK for companies like Disney to steal and renege on its contractual promises and just fine to destroy a million pages of evidence along the way."
2004-04-20 23:01:14