A two-year legal battle between scientist Bill Nye the Science Guy and The Walt Disney Company will head to trial in May of 2020, though there are some limitations to the lawsuit that make it slightly different from its original claims. In the lawsuit, Nye claims that The Walt Disney Company “conspired to prevent [Nye] from receiving full, accurate and reasonable accounting of the revenues and expenses of the BNSG series and its derivative works,” says the lawsuit.
Though the judge put limitations on the lawsuit that will go to trial, Nye and his lawyers are confident that the legal battle will expose Disney’s allegedly unethical financial reports. According to Nye’s lawyers, Disney often reports earnings far lower than what they really make in order to avoid paying their creators higher amounts.
Nye, who made content for Disney under a subsidiary called Buena Vista Television between 1993 and 1998, has remained an icon of the mid-1990’s through the early 2000’s and 2010’s. Nye’s legal troubles with Disney go back over a decade, though, as he first noticed discrepancies in his pay back in 2008.
In 2017 Nye told Variety that Disney claimed he owed them as much as $500,000 after an accounting error caused them to over pay. While investigating the claims, Nye hired a professional auditor to look through the financial documents with a fine-toothed comb to make sure Disney was reporting correctly. Throughout this, Nye claims that his auditor found that Disney under-reported as much as $28.1 million, meaning that Disney owes Nye over $9 million in unpaid royalties for Bill Nye The Science Guy.
The Legal Battle
In a court ruling this week, a Los Angeles judge ruled that the lawsuit will go to trial in May 2020 with certain limitations against Nye and his lawyers. Nevertheless, the lawsuit will move forward. “While we are disappointed with the Court’s ruling yesterday and the flawed legal reasoning upon which it relied, we welcome the opportunity to litigate the remainder of our clients’ case at trial and finally recover the damages Mr. Nye and his fellow producers are entitled to, including an award of punitive damages,” said one of Nye’s lawyers to Newsweek earlier this week.
Nye, who has been creating content with Netflix over the last couple of years, will see Disney in trial in May 2020. The judge has put limitations on the lawsuit that will respect participation statements that Disney issued before 2011, three years before Bill Nye hired the private auditor to look into Disney’s falsified revenue statements.