Bill Nye is not a happy Science Guy. The host recently filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that Disney, ABC, Buena Vista, and Touchstone shorted him millions of dollars from his time on the popular series. (via Scribd)
The lawsuit names the four aforementioned companies, along with several subsidiaries, alleging that they used tricky accounting to help lessen his and his partners’ share of the profits. Nye claims that he and his partners developed the series and are thus entitled to half of its profits, with Nye ultimately getting 16.5 percent of the total net profits after splitting with his partners. However, according to his complaint, the company misclassified revenues and expenses in an effort to lessen that number, violating the terms of the agreement.
Nye said he first became suspicious in 2008 when he found an “accounting error” in the royalty calculations. The host says that he tried to get an explanation but was thrown around for years, resulting in him hiring an external auditor. He alerted Disney to the fact that he was auditing them in 2014 and was told that they were “backlogged” and that it would take as much as three to four years before his audit could begin.
Nye says that the audit finally got off the ground in May of 2016, but he alleges that the defendants didn’t include documents like licensing agreements and digital sales information. The suit says that the auditor still found “hundreds of thousands of dollars in unreported payments” owed to Nye, with the auditor reportedly noting that the Buena Vista intentionally misclassified distribution costs, misrepresented expenses like foreign tax withholding and distribution sales, and intentionally didn’t report royalties on video device sales. They are also accused of improperly representing video devices, as defined in Nye’s original contract.
All in all, Nye’s auditor found that the host was owed at least $9.3 million from the companies, with Nye claiming that the companies took $28 million in ill-gotten gains from him and his partners. The host is suing for fraudulent concealment, fraudulent inducement, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty, among other claims, and is looking to earn back the money he is owed along with punitive damages.
Disney didn’t respond to request for comment on the complaint. While we wait to see how the lawsuit plays out, read up on the untold truth of Bill Nye.
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