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Plaintiffs’ Lawyers in Pooh Case Step Down

Make it eight. Eight law firms that is. Law firm Jones Day, which represent the Slesinger family in their case against Disney over Winnie the Pooh right, have stepped down, reported DAILY VARIETY. In papers filed, the law firm stepped down because the Slesinger family informed them they could no longer afford the firms services. The family has not appointed new attorneys yet. The law firm has only been involved in the 12-year long lawsuit since June. On Oct. 8, 2003, the case was moved over to a new judge, Charles W. McCoy, who is L.A. Superior Courts judge in charge of complex legal cases.

Beginning in 1991, the lawsuit was brought by the heirs of Stephen Slesinger, who had purchased the North American merchandising rights to the POOH characters in 1930, alleging that Disney was cheating them out of a substantial amount of royalty fees. Beginning in the 1960s, Stephen Slesinger Inc. has licensed the characters to Disney and since then Winnie the Pooh and friends have become Disneys most lucrative franchise, nearing the $1 billion mark. The suit had been quiet for some time until a 2001 ruling declared that Disney had destroyed documents pertaining to the case. After Disney lost on appeal its demand to have this information barred from a trial, the mega-conglom issued a motion claiming the Slesingers obtained documents illegally by going through Disneys trash. This motion is still pending.

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