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'Dora the Explorer' Actress Sues Nickelodeon

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on October 13, 2010 10:06 AM

Dora the Explorer is a wildly popular cartoon on Nickelodeon that follows the bi-lingual Dora on her, well explorations. Now Dora is exploring the legal world. The Dora the Explorer actress is suing Nickelodeon, claiming the network (owned by Viacom) cheated her out of millions of dollars. 14 year-old Caitlin Sanchez, who has been the voice of Dora since 2007, claims that Nickelodeon misrepresented itself in the initial contract negotiations and has been cheating her out of her money ever since.

The Daily Finance quotes Sanchez's attorney, John Balestriere:

"Through the contract and repeated promises, which Nickelodeon did not keep, defendants Nickelodeon and Nickelodeon Consumer Products, along with Caitlin's talent agency .... took advantage of the young girl and her family, and in doing so, received enormous value from Caitlin without paying her promised compensation for the reasonable value of her services."

Balestriere also argues that the contract contained, "convoluted, vague, and undefined terms."

Specifically, Cailtlin Sanchez claims that she is owed fees for reruns, DVDs, Dora the Explorer products, and hundreds of promotional events in which she was only given a $40 per diem fee. The family also alleges that they were given twenty two minutes to read the contract or lose the lucrative part to the runner-up. In order to prevail in this suit, the Dora the Exporer actress would need to show that Nickelodeon intentionally misrepresented material facts.

Nickelodeon enters into a lot of contracts with young actors and actresses so it would be very surprising if this contract (which is likely very similar to so many others) is found to rise to the level of misrepresentation. She was likely being compensated according to the terms of her contract, which made for very good business for Nickelodeon. Not surprisingly, Nickelodeon classified the suit as "baseless." In the end, this is a fairly common scenario when an unknown actor enters into a contract and then makes it big. The negotiating powers may be unbalanced, but that does not necessarily serve to make it unfair.

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