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Blow to Disney in Pooh trial

Los Angeles, Feb. 21 (Reuters): The California Supreme Court has denied Walt Disney Co. the chance to contest key evidence in a pending trial over a billion-dollar honey pot of marketing rights related to Winnie the Pooh, the US rights holder to the famed bear said yesterday.

Stephen Slesinger Inc. said the court declined to review lower court rulings that Disney had destroyed evidence it knew Slesinger needed in its quest for a bigger share of money from movies and merchandise based on the honey-loving bear and his friends in the Hundred-Acre Wood.

“They can shred, but they can’t hide,” Slesinger lawyer Bert Fields said in a statement. The ruling means that a jury will be told Slesinger’s version of some key conversations about licensing terms were true when the case ultimately goes to trial, he has said.

Disney, which has said it could be liable for hundreds of millions of dollars if it loses the central case that has not yet gone to trial, says the destruction of documents was innocent.

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