The lawyer for the company suing Walt Disney Co. for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars over merchandise royalties to Winnie the Pooh said on Wednesday he was withdrawing from the case.
Bert Fields, a prominent lawyer known for his high-profile cases against Disney, told Reuters that his firm Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman would withdraw shortly as counsel for Stephen Slesinger Inc., which holds the U.S. merchandising rights to the honey-loving bear.
Fields declined to discuss reasons for his withdrawal and predicted a minor slowdown at worst in the case, which has dragged out for more than a decade in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The Slesinger family which acquired the rights to Pooh from British author A.A. Milne in 1930 has employed a number of law firms as it sought damages that Disney itself has said could mount to hundreds of millions of dollars if it lost.
In a major victory against Disney in 1999, Fields grilled Chief Executive and Chairman Michael Eisner in court and extracted millions for former studio boss Jeffrey Katzenberg in a bitter case over a bonus Disney said the former executive had forfeited.
Disney has dismissed the claims that it shortchanged Slesinger on royalties as without merit and earlier this month Chief Executive and Chairman Michael Eisner said he could not imagine his company losing control of Pooh, the curious bear who is worth a pot of gold to Disney.
A spokesman for the Slesingers said the family was hiring new lawyers and was confident they could win their suit.