Disney boss to face OJ lawyer

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The Independent Online

Michael Eisner, the much- feared chairman and chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, is to face Johnnie Cochran Jnr, the lawyer who helped OJ Simpson beat a murder charge, across a Florida courtroom in the next few days.

Michael Eisner, the much- feared chairman and chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, is to face Johnnie Cochran Jnr, the lawyer who helped OJ Simpson beat a murder charge, across a Florida courtroom in the next few days.

Mr Eisner is being called to give evidence in a $1bn action brought against the entertainment giant by a businessman and an architect who claim it stole their idea for a sports complex.

The Disney Wide World of Sports has been operating for three years next door to the group's Disneyworld theme park in Orlando.

The complex features baseball, American football and basketball attractions as well as a golf course that has bunkers designed to look like Mickey Mouse.

It regularly invites sporting celebrities, such as Muhammad Ali, for tickertape parades down its Hall of Fame high street, and hosts warm-weather training for major league baseball team the Atlanta Braves.

However, one duo who are not charmed by the complex are Nicholas Stracick, a businessman from Buffalo in New York State, and Edward Russell, an architect from Ontario in Canada.

They claim they came up with the idea for the complex in the 1980s and went to Disney with it in 1986. They say they put $200,000 (£133,000) of their own money into developing the project but were shunned by Disney, who rejected the scheme in 1989.

They allege theft, breach of contract and fraud. They have hired a top legal team, including Mr Cochran, to sue Disney for over $1bn in the case before a Florida court.

The entertainment group says it had been thinking of a sports project for nearly 30 years and finally went forward in 1993.

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