Tyler Perry wins plagiarism suit

Texas woman had claimed 'Diary' stole from her play

DALLAS -- A woman who accused actor-screenwriter Tyler Perry of stealing material from her play for his movie "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" has lost her federal lawsuit against the entertainer.

Jurors in the East Texas town of Marshall found Tuesday that Donna West did not present evidence to support her claim of copyright infringement.

In the lawsuit filed in May 2007, West argued that Perry lifted material from her "Fantasy of a Black Woman." The play was performed three times in 1991 in Dallas, and West contended that Perry could have gained access to the script in 1998 when he presented his plays at the Dallas Black Academy of Arts and Letters.

Perry, who testified during the trial, insisted his screenplay was an original work. His work on the film earned him several awards and nominations.

"We are very pleased that the jurors understood that Tyler Perry is an incredibly talented person who has no need to copy the work of others," attorney Veronica Lewis said.

Attorneys for West plan to seek a new trial.

"Obviously we're very disappointed -- we thought we'd made our case," said Willie Briscoe, one of West's attorneys. "I believe that we conclusively demonstrated that Mr. Perry had access to Ms. West's work, that there were striking similarities between her work and his work."

Aside from Perry, West sued his company Tyler Perry Inc. because it sells the movie online and by mail. West also filed suit against Lionsgate, which funded and distributed the film.

West, who lives in North Texas, asked for damages and profits from Perry's 2005 film, which earned $50.4 million at the domestic boxoffice.

Perry, Steve Harris, Kimberly Elise and Shemar Moore star in the movie, which focuses on a woman whose grandmother helps her after she is dumped for a younger woman by her husband.
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