Finding that 21st Century Fox executives willfully gave bogus testimony in a dispute over profits from the series “Bones,” an arbitrator awarded nearly $179 million in damages to the stars and producers of the show, according to court documents released Wednesday.
The decision by arbitrator Peter Lichtman — dubbed one of the largest awards of its type stemming from a dispute over studio profits — was issued Feb. 4 but did not become public until Wednesday.
Lichtman had harsh words for Fox executives, including Fox President Peter Rice and CEO Dana Walden, who testified in the case, writing that the studio’s witnesses “lacked credibility and at times appeared to intentionally deviate from the truth even in the face of clear and unequivocal controverting facts.”
“A myriad of explanations by the Fox witnesses cannot account for their complete disregard for obvious and uncontroverted facts,” Lichtman wrote. “There simply appeared to be a company-wide culture and an accepted climate that enveloped an aversion for the truth.”
Of the nearly $179 million in damages awarded to the show’s stars and producers — including David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel and producer Barry Josephson — more than $128 million is in punitive damages.
Fox issued a statement excoriating the arbitrator’s ruling.
“The ruling by this private arbitrator is categorically wrong on the merits and exceeded his arbitration powers,” Fox stated. “Fox will not allow this flagrant injustice, riddled with errors and gratuitous character attacks, to stand and will vigorously challenge the ruling in a court of law.”
The studio has filed court papers challenging the arbitrator’s award of punitive damages.
Lawsuits over profits from the series were filed in 2015 on behalf of Boreanaz, Deschanel, Josephson and author Kathy Reichs.
Josephson’s attorney, Dale Kinsella, called the arbitrator’s ruling “a tremendous victory” for the stars and producers of the show.
“Fox’s fraudulent conduct toward the series’ creators and stars, perpetrated over many years, has finally been brought to light, and Fox has been held accountable for its actions,” Kinsella said.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: