A news headline that has shocked many to read is true. Bill Nye is suing Disney for almost $30 million dollars. Bill Nye is a lovely neighborly man that always wears a dickie bow and loves some science. He has decided to take on the behemoth that is Disney. He alleges that Disney under-reported their profits from his show for years and was, therefore, able to avoid paying him the correct amount of money. The court ruled in December 2019 that it could to trial in the middle of 2020.
Bill Nye’s claim is very simple. He was the star of a show called Bill Nye the Science Guy from 1993 to 1998 on PBS. The show was owned by Disney but Bill Nye had some ownership rights as well. The deal struck at the time with Beuna Vista Television was that 50% of all profits would be split among the owners. Bill Nye now suggests that Disney misreported the profit numbers which allowed the company to avoid paying Bill the correct amount of money.
In December the case went to pre-trial and Nye hit his first obstacle. The case is set to go to trial but with limited claims. The judge ruled out any possibility that Disney breached a fiduciary duty to Mr. Nye and Bill’s claim is already in doubt. Disney also tried to get the claim thrown out of court by suggesting that the man of science had waited too long to make his claim, now 22 years later. This request was declined and the case got the go-ahead for what may go down as one of the most surreal cases ever in history; Disney vs Bill Nye the Science Guy.
The case has already faced some obstacles and we can expect it to face many more. The cold reality in the American justice system is that the big boys rarely lose. While Bill Nye is no poor student with a net worth estimated to be around $6 million he is certainly David compared to the financial Goliath that is Disney. Disney is estimated to be worth $130 billion and they can use all the tricks in the book to drag this court case out and cause Bill to lose lots of money along the way. However, that may not be in their best interest.
In 2018 Forbes named Disney as the “best-regarded” company in the world and this proves that image really is everything to the company. If there is anyone with a more positive image than Disney it is Bill Nye. Bill is someone who has worked with kids, is an educator, is polite, professional, and is an advocate of action against climate change and for the New Green Deal. The man seems to be loved by children and adults alike for what he has taught them about the world of science.
If Disney chooses to go head to head with Bill Nye they may win the court case but the fight could cost them far more than $30 million in reputation alone. If Bill Nye is right that the company has been misreporting its numbers in any way then he will look like the perfect victim. Disney will no longer look like the prince or princess character that they portray so well, they will become the villain.
The case is set to appear in court in the coming months and although we can expect some delays due to the coronavirus we would not be surprised if we never saw this case reach court. It is in Disney’s best interest to make this case disappear and we think an out of court settlement is the most likely scenario. Stay tuned.