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Disney Loses a Round in Pooh Case

20 Feb, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

A California jury will be allowed to hear that Walt Disney Co. attorneys destroyed more than 40 boxes of documents in a contract dispute over who owns North American merchandising rights to Winnie-the-Pooh, the state Supreme Court has ruled.The ruling means the jury – if the case goes to trial as scheduled later this year – will be instructed to accept as fact versions of events put forth by the surviving family of a literary agent who bought the rights from author A.A. Milne,"This means that Disney will be held accountable for the promises made to the family by Disney executives," said Bert Fields, attorney for the Slesinger family. "They can shred, but they can't hide."Whether the 12-year-old case will ever reach a jury is still in question. The judge is scheduled to hear arguments in April on Disney's motion to throw the case out.Last November, the California Court of Appeals rejected Disney's appeal.The most profitable of all the characters Disney markets, Pooh is estimated to be worth billions in annual revenue.

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