Ninth Circuit Court likely next up

A federal court judge has denied Disney’s appeal of a $319 million judgment for British production company Celador Intl.

Celador claimed in 2004 that Disney’s ABC and Buena Vista divisions self-dealt the shingle out of full profit-participation fees for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” a show Celador hatched in the U.K. and licensed to ABC more than a decade ago. The Mouse House lost the case in July, then appealed.

Judge Virginia Phillips tentatively denied that appeal in early December. Her 54-page ruling, issued Tuesday in a California District Court, makes the decision official.

The studio could take the case next to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal — a move both sides anticipate.

“I have no indication that they’re not (going to appeal), and I have every indication that they are,” said Celador lead attorney Roman Silberfeld. “They’ve been sure for 6½ years, and they haven’t been right yet.”

The case has attracted attention not only because of the amount of money involved — one of the largest judgments in the U.S. this year — but also because it is one of few centering on showbiz accounting to go all the way through trial.

“We continue to believe the verdict is fundamentally wrong,” a Disney spokesman told the L.A. Times. “And will aggressively seek to have it reversed on appeal.”

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