On February 27, 2019, news broke of the $178 million ruling against Fox for punitive damages. $128 million of that suit was in punitive damages, $32 million in compensatory damages, $10 million in prejudgment interest, and $9 million in fees and costs. Today, on May 02 2019, the Bones $128 million award verdict was reversed by a Californian judge.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the original award was almost the largest in television history. The amount is second only to a 2011 jury verdict against Disney, which charged the network $319 million over profit disputes for Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. With this being said, when the story first broke, it shook the television industry.
Bones premiered in 2005, and in the years that have passed since then, the procedural crime drama has accrued an impressive and loyal fanbase. It has received nominations for a slew of awards, including the Emmys, Satellite Awards, Genesis Awards, and the People’s Choice Awards.
The story of this trial begins four years ago. In 2015, Bones‘ stars Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, the show’s stars, Kathy Reichs, the writer of the series’s source material, and Barry Josephson, the show’s executive producer, sued the network for committing fraud at their expense. Allegedly, 20th Century Fox Television undercharged Hulu and Fox Broadcasting for broadcasting fees. In turn, Deschanel, Boreanaz, Josephson, and Reichs were purportedly underpaid.
At the time, the case arbitrator had this to say regarding the ultimate ruling in favor of the prosecutors: “There is no doubt that the Studio realized that it was not going to win the fight with its affiliate and therefore not only capitulated to the wishes of the Network but also became an accomplice to fraud with respect to the Network’s desire to limit both the Studio’s and Network’s exposure for its breach and failure to negotiate in accord with the operative contractual standards. A breach occurred, was known to have occurred, and was attempted to be papered over by way of a release.”
Following the charge, 20th Century Fox decided to challenge the $128 Million punitive damages award. Armed with attorney Daniel Petrocello, they successfully contested the arbitrator’s award.
Fox responded to the win with the following statement: “We are pleased with the Court’s decision to strike punitive damages from the award and vindicating our position. We look forward to concluding the litigation.”
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs have announced their plans to appeal this decision. The attorney representing Josephson, Dale Kinsella, responded with, “We respectfully and profoundly disagree with the trial court’s order eliminating the punitive damages award against Fox.” Kinsella continued with, “While the ruling contains no reasoning, we are confident that when the appellate court reviews the Award with the required deference, without regard to the trial court’s finding, the original award will be reinstated.”