UCLA Health sues Barbie-maker over $49M donation pledge

Los Angeles-based UCLA Health is claiming that Mattel, the toy and entertainment company behind Barbie and Hot Wheels, never followed through with a pledged $49 million donation, the Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 14.

According to a lawsuit, in 2017, the toy company pledged to donate $49 million to the health system over 12 years. UCLA agreed to work Mattel's logo and corporate branding into its marketing. However, the lawsuit alleges that Mattel last made a payment of $1 million in 2018. 

Mattel's poor financial state caused them to put a pause in donations in 2017. When the pause was over in 2021, the toy company allegedly attempted to negotiate its pledge down to $10 million. The new pledge would only include $2.5 million in cash, the rest was made up in toys and in-kind marketing.

UCLA is looking to receive the full amount originally promised to them and damages stemming from the toy company allegedly backing out of the donation. Mattel did not respond to the Times requests for comment.

"As a last resort, UCLA Health has taken legal action to compel Mattel Inc. to honor its $49 million pledge," a UCLA Health spokesperson said. "Litigation is not the University's preferred path. UCLA Health made multiple good-faith attempts to resolve this matter through meaningful dialogue, and those efforts were unsuccessful."

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