In a federal complaint filed in the Central District of California on Monday, Denise Daniels sued the Walt Disney Company and Pixar for breach of implied-in-fact contract. She claims that she and her team pitched the idea of a similar concept called “The Moodsters” to the studio from 2005 through 2009. Daniels is not making a claim for copyright infringement.
Daniels is an expert in child development and created “The Moodsters” to help children manage their emotions, according to the lawsuit, and she also cofounded the National Childhood Grief Institute.
“Disney-Pixar has used Daniels’ idea in the movie ‘Inside Out,’ and merchandise and Disney-Pixar has not compensated Daniels,” the 16-page lawsuit states.
Daniels says that she created an extended outline, or “bible,” for her show that also used color-coded characters to express emotions. Her creative team created a “Moodsters” pilot episode in 2007, she says.
They pitched the idea to several executives and claim that Disney’s then-chief financial officer Thomas Staggs, then president of Disney Channels Worldwide Rich Ross and Roy E. Disney “had access” to their creative work.
“In short, Disney-Pixar had access to ‘The Moodsters’ well before 2010,” the filing states.
“Inside Out” was released in 2015 and grossed $857.6 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
Daniels seeks damages and costs. She is represented by Michael Geibelson of Robins Kaplan.