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To jury or not to jury? That is the question as this 6-year-old Home Improvement lawsuit inches forward. The creative minds behind Tim Allen's old ABC show just revealed they're asking for damages "in excess of $40 million, without interest." They want a jury trial. Disney, on the other hand, argues that this case should be decided by a judge.
To catch you up, Home Improvement writer-producers Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra, Tam O'Shanter, and David McFadzean and Wind Dancer Production Group filed a lawsuit against Disney in 2013. They allege -- among other things -- that they haven't been paid their fair share of profits, claiming they are entitled to 75 percent of the net profits from the show, which generated $1.5 billion for Disney. The suit also claims Disney sold Home Improvement into syndication in New York "for no monetary consideration" and failed to consult with the plaintiffs about how the show would be exploited.
There were delays along the way, but in 2017 an appeals court revived the lawsuit. Now the suit is at the summary adjudication phase.
In new court papers, the Home Improvement creative team listed a damages target "in excess of $40 million, without interest." As the plaintiffs claim, when their lawsuit was first filed, the defendants -- Disney -- refused to provide documents and other information to the plaintiffs' auditors. But now the Home Improvement team has been able to quantify the audit claims and that side plans to offer evidence at trial of the damages. They believe they have a right to a jury trial. Disney's attorneys disagree.
As THR noted, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy Hogue is in a position to settle all of this herself. If not, the case may head to trial. A trial currently has a scheduled start date of June 3.
So we'll have to see how the judge rules moving forward -- trial by bench or by jury? The lawsuit may not move to infinity and beyond, but it needs a ruling from here.
The lawsuit details may be apples and oranges, but it has to give the Home Improvement team hope to see the Bones creatives get a massive initial win out of Fox in their own profit participation lawsuit.
The Home Improvement team previously sued Disney in the mid-1990s, per THR, in a profit participation lawsuit that was settled, and helped change how studios and networks deal with each other and talent.
Tim Allen continued on ABC with Last Man Standing, and he was not happy when the network he'd worked with for so long cancelled that comedy after six seasons. Fox picked up the show for Season 7, which is now airing Friday nights. In fact, Last Man Standing will be airing its 150th episode on April 19, as one of the many shows winding down in midseason 2019 as the summer shows prepare to take over.