UCLA Takes Legal Action Against Mattel Over Unfulfilled Children’s Hospital Pledge
By Dolores Quintana
In an escalating legal dispute, UCLA and its health system have initiated a lawsuit against Mattel, the renowned toy company responsible for iconic franchises like Barbie, Hot Wheels, and American Girl. The lawsuit alleges that Mattel failed to fulfill its commitment to donate $49 million to the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.
According to the lawsuit, Mattel pledged the multimillion-dollar donation in installments over 12 years, starting in 2017. The collaboration between the two entities dates back to 1998 when Mattel contributed $25 million to the UCLA Foundation, facilitating the construction of the Children’s Hospital Westwood campus. The Children’s Hospital was named UCLA Mattel Hospital in honor of that pledge.
Initially, the partnership progressed smoothly, with Mattel delivering the initial funds by 2004 and agreeing to host an annual fundraising event at the Santa Monica Pier. Thousands of children have benefited from the hospital’s services since then.
However, tensions arose when, after the 2017 agreement, Mattel allegedly attempted to renege on the pledged amount. The lawsuit claims that instead of the promised $49 million, Mattel proposed a much smaller sum along with in-kind donations such as Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars. UCLA’s lawsuit, filed on behalf of the regents of the University of California and the UCLA Foundation, accuses Mattel of breaching the contract. UCLA is seeking the full pledged amount and damages for financial hardship resulting from Mattel’s deviation from the original commitment.
UCLA, expressing disappointment in Mattel’s actions, clarified that legal action was a last resort after unsuccessful attempts at resolving the matter through dialogue. Mattel, however, disputes UCLA’s allegations, asserting that the company has not breached its contractual obligations.
“While Mattel deeply values its longstanding relationship with UCLA Health, including the naming of UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital (UMCH), we dispute UCLA’s claims that Mattel breached its contractual obligations,” said a Mattel spokesperson in a statement to KTLA. The spokesperson added, “In 2017, Mattel and UCLA Health entered into a separate pledge agreement specifically for the construction of a new hospital tower. Our agreement expressly allocates funds for the new tower and provides that funding cannot be allocated for any other purpose by either party alone. UCLA Health has unilaterally abandoned its plans for the construction of its new hospital tower. As a result, the conditions for the pledge under the 2017 Agreement have not been met.”