If there’s anything that Bill Nye hates about as much as climate change denial, we imagine it’s egregious accounting discrepancies. Since 2017, Nye has been embroiled in a lawsuit with The Walt Disney Company over allegedly withheld profits stemming from his syndicated series, Bill Nye, The Science Guy. After a number of ordered amendments to the original complaint—four, to be exact—the court has now given the widely beloved scientist the all-clear to pursue punitive damages to the tune of $28 million dollars, per a report from Fox Business.
The conflict derives from an agreement that Nye had with Disney’s televised subsidiary Buena Vista, which granted him 16.5% of the net profits from sales and distribution of the popular 100-episode series. In April of 2008, the company sent Nye a statement and payment totaling $585,123. Three months later the company sent a retraction of the previous statement due to an “accounting error” and asked for a $496,111 remittance. Nye requested an official audit of Buena Vista’s records, which took place in 2016. Per Fox Business, “the auditor provided Nye with preliminary findings that identified underreported royalty payments owed to Nye in excess of $9 million. Eventually, he filed his lawsuit seeking not only his original profits owed but compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees.”
Disney has attempted to get the case reduced to an “accounting spectacle.” The court did ultimately agree to place limitations on Nye’s claims against the conglomerate, which Nye’s representation addressed in a statement to Fox Business:
“While we are disappointed with the Court’s ruling yesterday and the flawed legal reasoning upon which it relied, we welcome the opportunity to litigate the remainder of our clients’ case at trial and finally recover the damages Mr. Nye and his fellow producers are entitled to, including an award of punitive damages. More importantly, it is our hope that this case, which Disney has fought so hard to stall, will finally shine some light upon the improper accounting practices that Disney utilizes to unjustly deprive profit participants, like our clients, of their fair share of revenues from the programming that they work so hard to create.”
Nye had a separate series with Netflix called Bill Nye Saves the World, which ended last year. Disney sold a select amount of episodes of Bill Nye, The Science Guy to Netflix—another sore spot with Nye, who believes he is owed profits from that deal, as well. Obviously, Bill Nye, The Science Guy cannot be found on Disney+.