Mouse rewards legal eagle with big bonus

VP, general counsel Meisinger earns $350K add-on

The paucity of annual bonuses at the Mouse House last year — zilch for Michael Eisner, nada for Sandy Litvack and zippo for Roy Disney — throws into bold relief the one exec who did get a nice tidy sum to top off his base pay. Disney VP and general counsel Louis Meisinger was awarded a $350,000 bonus on a salary of $650,000. Disney’s compensation committee, which held back the extra cash from other executives due to the company’s poor showing, said it handed Meisinger his bonus “for extraordinary services to the company unrelated to the performance target” set by the committee — i.e., his role as top litigator in the Disney vs. Katzenberg lawsuit. That’s surprising to some insiders since the proceedings, which ended in the spring, seemed to alienate shareholders, as well as provide a major embarrassment for Eisner. Disney racked up steep legal bills before agreeing to settle the case for a reported $250 million. Meisinger was Disney’s outside counsel in the long-standing litigation with Jeffrey Katzenberg and he came inhouse in July 1998. The current DreamWorks partner contended that Disney owed him bigtime based on a promised 2% profit on films that were produced while he was the Mouse’s studio head.

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