After a Los Angeles judge gave the go-ahead for a pared-down version of his lawsuit, Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” who is not actually a scientist, is officially heading to court against The Walt Disney Company.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Nye is accusing Disney of shortchanging him to the tune of tens of millions of dollars for how the company handled the profits from his popular 1990s series “Bill Nye The Science Guy.” Disney, says Nye, owes him some $28 million.
His complaint, which has been amended four times now, was finally allowed to go forward on Wednesday. A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Dalila Lyons, said a limited version of his complaint could head to trial, which the court scheduled for May 2020.
While Judge Lyons rejected Disney’s attempt to have the punitive damages dismissed, the judge nixed Nye’s attempts to nail Disney on a breach of fiduciary duty toward him.
“In Nye’s fourth amended complaint, he estimates $28 million in damages from the way that Disney allegedly shortchanged him on profits from his 1990s television show,” THR reports. “He’s also seeking punitive damages arising from how Disney has ‘a long and consistent pattern of under-reporting revenue and improperly applying deductions.'”
Disney says Nye is misinterpreting the contract and maintains that he failed to take action quickly enough to have any viable legal complaint now.
As THR reported in May during the summary judgment phase of the suit, Disney filed a motion for summary adjudication maintaining that “claims arising from profit participation statements issued before 2012 are barred by an incontestability provision setting the countdown clock at 24 months.”
Disney lawyers say that since Nye had suspicions of being “cheated” of profits back in the ’90s but failed to file a lawsuit at the time, waiting until August 2017 to finally take action, he has blown his chance at a successful case. “This is the very reason statutes of limitations exist,” Disney said in the May memorandum.
Nye countered by arguing that Disney provided him quarterly profit statements that lacked enough detail for him to be able to assess their accuracy. His claim that Disney actually owes him $37 million is based on what he says is a false promise from the company that he would be given access to necessary records when he chose to invest in an audit of the show’s revenues.THR provides more details on the deal Nye claims Disney has violated;
According to court documents, a Disney subsidiary agreed to pay Nye 50 percent of net profits on Bill Nye the Science Guy, but of course, the definition of net profits included caveats related to fees, expenses and other costs. Nye also got a per-episode fee of about $12,500, reimbursement for his developmental costs, a $50,000 royalty if his likeness was used at a theme park and, perhaps most important and somewhat unusual, the rights to the Science Guy character reverted to Nye after his old children’s show ended.