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  • Aug. 24, 1994 — After months of rumors that Jeffrey Katzenberg will exit as chairman of Walt Disney Studios, the company says he will step down in September, at the end of his contract, and that Caravan Pictures producer Joe Roth will take over.

  • April 9, 1996 — Katzenberg sues Disney for breach of contract, alleging he is owed at least 2% of studio profits from products created during his 10-year tenure, or $250 million.

  • May 17, 1996 — Filing a formal answer to Katzenberg’s lawsuit, Disney claims he forfeited bonuses linked to revenues of Disney TV programs and films when he negotiated a new contract in 1988.

  • June 23, 1997 — L.A. Superior Court Judge John Ouderkirk sides with Katzenberg and orders Disney to turn over key profit records so that the exec’s bonus can be calculated.

  • Sept. 21, 1997 — Two mock juries find in favor of Katzenberg. A key element is a memo written by the late Frank Wells, former Walt Disney president, which states that Katzenberg is due a 2% stake in Disney’s revenues even after he leaves the company.

  • Nov. 3, 1997 — Just before the trial is to start, Disney concedes liability, and the two sides agree to arbitration to determine the amount. It is later learned that Disney agreed to pay Katzenberg $117 million.

  • April 15, 1999 — Disney had argued that the press should be barred from the trial to determine the amount of money to be paid Katzenberg. But in response to a motion filed by Daily Variety and the Los Angeles Daily Journal, Ouderkirk rules that the press is entitled to attend.

  • April 26 — Phase Two of the trial begins, to determine damages and interest, under retired L.A. Superior Court Judge Paul Breckenridge Jr. Katzenberg attorney Bert Fields says the trial is about “the personal animus of one man,” Disney chairman-CEO Michael Eisner. Fields emphasizes that his client was entitled to a 2% incentive bonus in lieu of the huge stock options given to Wells and to Eisner. Disney general counsel Lou Meisinger counters that Katzenberg collected $100 million in 10 years, but took too much credit for the studio’s success in the press and didn’t treat Roy Disney with enough respect.

  • April 27 — Katzenberg takes the witness stand and states that Eisner said he needed board approval for the 2% bonus. Eisner also told Katzenberg that he had misbehaved and had stirred up the negative buzz in the press about their split.

  • May 3 — Disney chief of operations Sanford Litvack testifies that Katzenberg forfeited his 2% bonus when he left in 1994; his contract employment window was until 1996. Litvack clarifies Eisner’s “behave yourself” statement to Katzenberg, vouching that Eisner meant he didn’t want Katzenberg raiding Disney’s employees.

  • May 4 — Fields asks witness Eisner if he ever called Katzenberg “a little midget” or ever said “I was the cheerleader, and Jeffrey the pom pom.” Eisner states that he might have said something of the sort in jest. Eisner testifies that he was reluctant to give Katzenberg any bonus due to the bad buzz about their split. Eisner also states that the bonus was void if Katzenberg left earlier than the date he was contracted for.

  • May 19 — Judge Breckenridge rules that Katzenberg did not forfeit his bonus when he left Disney prior to his contract and that he is entitled to 10% interest per year on any money owed. Judge also rules that Katzenberg can go after revenues earned on his projects through inhouse merchandise and online ancillaries.

  • May 25 — A debate ensues on the exact value of Disney’s assets: former Disney consulting firm Booz-Allen & Hamilton states $18 billion and Katzenberg’s expert witness (and friend) Microsoft technology guru Nathan Myhrvold suggests $30 billion. Litvack tempers Myhrvold’s testimony by pointing out in a confidential letter from the witness that he advised Katzenberg to buy all Disney assets in question for DreamWorks.

  • June 2 — Financial analyst Dennis Soter argues Katzenberg’s bonus should be $578 million, based on a formula used when Disney in 1995 bought out Silver Screen Partners — an investment group that owned a share in 66 films, 62 of which were in Katzenberg’s pool of products.

  • June 3 — The Disney defense refutes the Silver Screen formula model, claiming that the films produced under Katzenberg’s tenure were worth about $8 billion, instead of Soter’s calculated $28.9 billion; and that the 2% bonus is worth $160 million.

  • July 6 — Under questioning from Katzenberg’s attorney, Soter accepts Disney’s contention that several payments should not have been included in the Silver Screen estimate of the bonus owed. Soter revises the estimate downward, from $580 million to $395 million.

  • July 7 — Katzenberg and Disney settle.