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Long-running suit pitting Disney, TV show principals settles

An immediately notable point about protracted Walt Disney Company-linked litigation for individuals who note such things is that material developments occurred every other year for some time.

Producers of the hugely successful television comedy show Home Improvement (which aired for nearly a decade) and related entities first sued Disney back in 2013. That entertainment colossus owns rights to the show.

The plaintiffs contended that Disney ripped them off in a huge way by undercutting their profit-sharing rights when the show went into syndication after its long and award-winning run. One estimate of the money raked in by Disney from Home Improvement’s syndication posits a $1.5 billion-plus haul.

The trial court judge initially overseeing the case ruled against the plaintiffs in 2015, stating that their claims were defeated by a contractual “incontestability” clause for being time-barred.

Things simmered thereafter until 2017, when a California appellate panel reversed the lower court, finding its pro-Disney ruling to be in error. The three-judge tribunal held that open questions existed concerning Disney’s conduct that potentially – and perhaps purposefully – contributed to chronic delays regarding an audit and full accounting of the plaintiffs’ claims.

The legal teams for both sides were busily gearing up for a further round of litigation in an imminently scheduled trial when it was suddenly announced earlier this month that the parties had reached an out-of-court settlement.

Details concerning settlement terms have not been publicly disclosed. The plaintiffs had reportedly demanded a $40 million payment from Disney.

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