The history of show business is filled with stories of large companies ripping off performers and not paying them their fair share of the proceeds. Fox was accused of doing that by the stars and producers of the crime drama ‘Bones’ that ran on Fox for 12 years. The show was a monster hit and is now syndicated around the world. The people who made the show a success felt that they were not seeing their fair share of the literally millions of dollars that the show generated and continues to generate.
The dispute was brought before an arbitrator. This is not a court setting. Therefore, arbitration cases are kept private and away from the scrutiny of the public and the media. However, the outcome of this particular arbitration case has surprised everyone. It has sent shock waves through the show business community. The arbitrator ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered Fox to pay a total of $178 million. There was a $50 million ruling of damages. This is not being disputed. However, there was also a massive $128 million ruling for punitive damages. This amount was so big that Fox has decided to fight it in court. The decision to go to court has made the case a matter of public record. This has allowed the media to get their hands on all of the details of the arbitration case.
The arbitrator said that he believed a pair of Fox executives had lied when they were under oath when they were being questioned for the case. He also said that Fox had kept tens of millions of dollars that should have been divided among the producers and stars of the show. The ruling might encourage the creative teams of other hit shows to file legal action against the networks that aired their shows. Old shows can be worth a lot of money. Netflix famously paid $100 million to keep the rights for ‘Friends’ for just one more year. Therefore, it makes sense that producers and stars of hit shows would want to get the cash they are owed.
Fox has vowed to fight the $128 million punitive damages ruling vigorously when the case goes to court. It is scheduled to begin in late April. However, it is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. The wheels of justice turn very slowly. Fox has the money to keep this case going a long time.