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A Delaware judge Tuesday rebuked Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Michael Eisner for his role in the ill-fated hiring and firing of Michael Ovitz as president, but ruled that he and other directors did not betray their duty to shareholders.

Chancellor William B. Chandler III of the state's Chancery Court ruled that Disney directors acted in good faith when Ovitz was hired in 1995 and then allowed to walk away 15 months later with a severance package shareholder lawyers now value at $130 million. But while relieving directors of legal liability, the judge also scolded them in his 175-page decision, reserving his sharpest comments for Eisner.

A Delaware judge Tuesday rebuked Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Michael Eisner for his role in the ill-fated hiring and firing of Michael Ovitz as president, but ruled that he and other directors did not betray their duty to shareholders.

Chancellor William B. Chandler III of the state's Chancery Court ruled that Disney directors acted in good faith when Ovitz was hired in 1995 and then allowed to walk away 15 months later with a severance package shareholder lawyers now value at $130 million. But while relieving directors of legal liability, the judge also scolded them in his 175-page decision, reserving his sharpest comments for Eisner.

A Delaware judge Tuesday rebuked Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Michael Eisner for his role in the ill-fated hiring and firing of Michael Ovitz as president, but ruled that he and other directors did not betray their duty to shareholders.

Chancellor William B. Chandler III of the state's Chancery Court ruled that Disney directors acted in good faith when Ovitz was hired in 1995 and then allowed to walk away 15 months later with a severance package shareholder lawyers now value at $130 million. But while relieving directors of legal liability, the judge also scolded them in his 175-page decision, reserving his sharpest comments for Eisner.

Chandler wrote that although Eisner's actions during Ovitz's tenure may not have reflected good corporate governance, they did not breach fiduciary duty to shareholders.

"Despite all the legitimate criticisms that may be leveled at Eisner, especially at having enthroned himself as the omnipotent and infallible monarch of his personal Magic Kingdom, I nonetheless conclude that Eisner's actions were taken in good faith," he wrote.