Disney, Slesinger talk trash in Pooh suit

Hearing set for May on illegal entry, document stealing

Perhaps the evidence will come out in the wash … er, make that the trash.

The decade of legal wrangling between Stephen Slesinger Inc. and Disney over royalties from Winnie the Pooh merchandise is now turning on who picked up the trash and whether they had a right to do so.

Slesinger lawyers Tuesday admitted they dug through Disney’s trash, but say it was all legal.

Disney asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in February to throw out the case — in which Slesinger says it was underpaid Pooh character royalties — because, it alleged, Slesinger’s lawyers suppressed some information and hired investigators who broke into Disney offices and rummaged through company trash.

“The retrieval of documents from Disney’s publicly accessible trash bins was not a violation of Disney’s rights,” since it was discarded papers from a publicly accessible dumpster, Slesinger attorneys said, adding there was no “competent evidence” that anyone broke into Disney offices.

Disney lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said his opponents had been found “hiding the ball” by keeping crucial documents under wraps for years and by hiring thieves.

“They really admit doing a number of things that they have been caught doing,” such as searching through the trash, he said, claiming the evidence of illegal entry onto Disney property to look through trash and steal documents was clear.

A hearing on the matter is set for May 8.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

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