August 22, 2011 11:10am PT by Eriq Gardner
'Ugly Betty' Idea Theft Lawsuit Dismissed
A federal judge has tossed a lawsuit against producers of Ugly Betty, including ABC and Touchstone Television, after the plaintiff was purportedly uncooperative during the discovery process.
Azita Zendel filed the suit in U.S. District Court in California in April 2010, alleging that she wrote a screenplay that became the movie Controlled Chaos, which allegedly served as the basis for several episodes of Betty, which ran on ABC from 2006 to 2010.
Zendel spent four years as an assistant to director Oliver Stone and also wrote the book, "Hollywood Apprentice: How to Break into Hollywood and Survive the Toxic Boss Syndrome." According to a synopsis of Controlled Chaos, the film was about an assistant to a world-famous film director who must hide her boss' scandalous lifestyle from reporters.
Being an executive assistant in Hollywood is tough; maybe not as hard as being a litigant in a copyright infringement lawsuit.
In July, a magistrate judge in Zendel's case slammed her for being unresponsive to ABC's requests for documents and an attempt to schedule her deposition.
"Plaintiff has engaged in willful, repeated, bad faith discovery abuse," the magistrate judge wrote. "The abuse has included repeated violations of multiple Court orders, despite pointed warnings and monetary sanctions."
Last week, a federal judge decided to accept the magistrate judge's recommendations to dismiss the claims with prejudice. The magistrate judge also had recommended that Zendel be ordered to pay ABC some of its legal costs, which are probably still open for the network to pursue.