'Orphan Black' Producers Facing Another Lawsuit From Screenwriter

Stephen Henricks sued producers of the hit BBC America series for copyright infringement in federal court last year and has filed another suit in state court for breach of implied contract.
'Orphan Black'  Steve Wilkie/BBC America

Screenwriter Stephen Hendricks sued Temple Street Productions, and a handful of individuals behind Orphan Black, in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday for breach of implied contract, claiming they stole his ideas.

This follows a federal suit Hendricks filed in 2014, which makes similar allegations but sues for copyright infringement.

Both suits request damages in excess of $5 million. 

Hendricks claims he emailed a summary of his screenplay Double Double to David York and David Fortier of Temple Street in October 2004 for their consideration. A few weeks later Hendricks says he got an email that said they were going to pass on it. 

According to the lawsuit, in March of 2013 Hendricks discovered Orphan Black and realized it contained the same ideas and themes of his screenplay, specifically "the clandestine development of clones and the resulting journey of the protagonist to discover her origins."

Fortier, who Hendricks said passed on Double Double, is executive producer of Orphan Black.

"The similarities between the Series and the Screenplay are so substantial that it is a virtual statistical impossibility that the former could have been created independently from the latter," wrote attorney S. Michael Kernan in the lawsuit.

The complaint also claims several Orphan Black characters, including leads Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) and Felix (Jordan Gavaris), parallel characters from Double Double, as do settings, plot points and the overall mood. 

The federal case is pending. A trial before Judge Ronald S.W. Lew is set to begin on May 24. 

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