A settlement was reached in a lawsuit that alleged Walt Disney Pictures underpaid a widow’s late husband in the profits of a 1989 Tom Hanks comedy and also interfered with an accounting firm’s contract.
Christine Wagner, widow and heir of producer Raymond Wagner, and the accounting company Robinson & Co. filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court in April 2015. The widow, who chose Robinson & Co. to perform an audit, alleged Disney owes her money from her husband’s production of “Turner & Hooch,” a film about a police officer and a dog.
No terms were divulged in a notice of settlement filed June 5 by the plaintiffs’ attorneys. In May, Judge Samantha Jessner ruled the case could move to trial.
Actor Richard Dreyfuss originally was a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, but he dropped his claims a day later. His name remains in the caption of the lawsuit over the objection of Disney.
According to the complaint, Disney initially refused a demand by Wagner to allow Robinson & Co. to perform an audit. The accounting firm is one of the few firms that regularly audit Hollywood studios, according to the complaint.
“Simply put, Disney does not want Robinson to audit it because Robinson is one of the top participation auditing firms in the entertainment industry,” the suit stated. “Robinson is tough, tenacious and gets results.”
When Disney finally relented after the lawsuit was filed and allowed Robinson & Co. to perform an audit, the company concluded that Disney earned $32 million in revenues from the film, that it had been profitable since 1991 and that Christine Wagner was denied her share, the suit stated.
Raymond Wagner died in March 2014 at age 89. He was forced to borrow money from his children to survive during the final years of his life and his widow now has to borrow from her stepchildren to live, the suit stated.