A judge ruled Thursday that longtime TV personality Bill Nye will have to shore up his $37 million lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co. that alleges the media giant engaged in questionable accounting and cheated him out profits from his show, "Bill Nye the Science Guy."
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dalila Corral Lyons agreed with defense attorney Lucia Coyoca that in order to establish a joint venture, Nye must show he would have been willing to share in any losses as well as all profits.
Nye's lawyer, Chaz Rainey, said outside court that the issues cited by the judge can be easily addressed in an amended complaint that must be filed by Dec. 28. A case management conference is set for Jan. 9, when a trial date will be set.
Nye attended Thursday's hearing. Asked outside the courtroom if he was glad he came, Nye replied, "Oh yes."
Nye filed the lawsuit against Disney Aug. 24, alleging he and the other owners of the show are owed $28.1 million and Nye himself is owed at least $9.4 million.
The lawsuit charges Disney and its subsidiaries, including Buena Vista Television and ABC, of fraudulent concealment, breach of contract and alleges the defendants put their interests ahead of Nye's.
Nye's television series originally ran from 1992 to 1997 on PBS, and is still streamed on services such as Netflix. Buena Vista struck a deal to distribute, market and promote the series starting in 1993.
Nye alleges he was supposed to make 16.5 percent of net profits from the show. In 2008, Buena Vista sent him a royalty check for $585,123. According to the lawsuit, Buena Vista then told Nye there was an accounting error and that he actually owed the studio $496,111.
Nye was wary of the bookkeeping and tried to negotiate with Buena Vista, but the company failed to cooperate with his attempts to audit the earnings of the show, the suit states. Nye alleges Buena Vista stopped making royalty payments in 2008 because of the dispute.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants did not act in good faith to resolve the dispute and maintains the companies of were part of a conspiracy to deceive Nye.