For a bear of very little brain, Winnie the Pooh sure has caused some head scratching among the legal fraternity. For the second time in only four months, lawyers representing the family suing Walt Disney Company for hundreds of millions of royalties are withdrawing from the case. Why? Stephen Slesinger Inc, who are owned by the family founded by the literary agent who acquired US marketing rights to the honey-loving bear from A A Milne, say its legal costs. Jones Day are the last firm to go.

“During the last couple of months, Jones Day’s fees for handling this matter were much higher than either we or the firm expected, and they far exceeded what we can afford to pay,” Pati Slesinger and her mother Shirley Slesinger Lasswell said in a statement.

The Slesingers say Disney has shortchanged them of Pooh royalties worth hundreds of millions of dollars in a contract that already generates millions for them. The entertainment conglomerate has denied those charges through the course of a 12-year-old legal battle.

Both sides have changed lawyers, but the Slesingers have been most active recently.

Los Angeles lawyer Bert Fields, known for his fights against Disney, exited the case in June, and neither he nor the Slesingers have commented on the reason.

Pooh, one of the most beloved children’s characters of all time, generates billions of dollars each year in films, videos and related merchandise for Disney and others.

Disney lawyer Daniel Petrocelli declined to speculate directly on the reason for Jones Day’s dismissal but said the Slesingers had been on the defensive since Disney in February accused Slesinger’s team of stealing documents.

Disney asked the court to throw out the case or dismiss sanctions against Disney for destroying documents related to the case.

“All that I know is whenever we are on the verge of having our sanctions motion heard in the case, the Slesingers fire an attorney and ask the court to put the case on hold,” Petrocelli said.

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