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Entertainment : Court Upholds Ventriloquist Award

From Times wire services

The Supreme Court today let stand an award of $17.8 million to ventriloquist Paul Winchell after Metromedia Inc. destroyed all videotapes of his popular children’s television show in the 1960s.

After a dispute over future broadcast rights of the “Winchell-Mahoney Time” show, Metromedia erased all 288 of the videotapes. The company defended its action as authorized by a 1965 contract it had with Winchell.

Winchell filed suit after he learned about the erasures, and a jury in Los Angeles awarded him the damages in 1986. Metromedia’s attorneys then appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the $14 million in punitive damages against it should be struck down as an unconstitutional excessive fine.


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