ORLANDO-Walt Disney World has seen better days. But Wednesday wasn’t one of them. The 30-year-old theme park operator lost a legal bid to overturn a record $240-million judgment after a six-member jury in August convicted the park of stealing the idea for its 150,000-sf, $20-million Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, FL from All Pro Sports Camps Inc. of Tampa, FL.

Orange County Circuit Court Judge Ted Coleman denied Disney’s motions to throw out the suit, reduce the judgment amount, and order a new trial. At the same time, the judge also rejected a motion by All Pro Sports principals Nicholas Stracick and Edward Russell to have Disney pay their $5-million in legal fees and grant additional damages that would triple the original jury award to $720 million.

Instead, Coleman gave the defendants only an extra $100 in damages because he found Disney didn’t act maliciously or willfully. The August jury found Disney guilty of misappropriating trade secrets, making fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations, and breaching confidential relationships with the two defendants in the five years prior to the construction of the Wide World of Sports complex.

Stracick and Russell accused Disney officials of stealing their idea for the complex after they showed conceptual drawings to Disney representatives. Disney immediately appealed the judge’s decision to Florida’s Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach, FL.

The defendants’ lawyers are Johnnie Cochran, the Los Angeles criminal attorney who won an acquittal for football star O.J. Simpson on charges he murdered his wife and her male friend; and Willie Gary, the Stuart, FL lawyer who has won $500-million civil judgments for clients.

As if the Wide World of Sports case wasn’t embarrassing enough, Disney faces still another potential image-degrading lawsuit that charges the park fraudulently incorporated ideas for its Epcot attraction from a deceased Ohio man in 1963. The family of Lt. Col. Robert M. Jaffray plans to sue Disney in the next several weeks in Orlando’s Federal court on copyright infringement charges.

The Jaffray family will argue Robert Jaffray copyrighted the Epcot concept in 1956 and showed his conceptual plans to Disney in 1963, three years before the legendary animator Walt Disney died. All the family wants is for Disney to erect a statue at Epcot honoring Jaffray for his vision. Disney, however, adamantly denies Jaffray’s drawings led to the creation of Epcot in 1982. The attraction showcases technology and international culture.

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