Harper Lee Settles Lawsuit With Agent Over 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

To Kill A Mocking Bird Cover - P 2013

To Kill A Mocking Bird Cover - P 2013

To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee has resolved a dispute with ex-agent Samuel Pinkus,  whom she accused of taking advantage of her age to deprive her of royalties from the famous book. An attorney for the author confirms that a stipulation to dismiss the lawsuit will be coming next week.

Pinkus came to represent Lee working at the literary agency of McIntosh & Otis.

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Almost a decade ago, Pinkus split from M&O to set up his own agency, Veritas Media Inc. After leaving, M&O and Veritas fought in arbitration over entitlement to commissions. An arbitrator awarded a judgment to M&O.

In Lee's lawsuit in May, she stated that Pinkus and others had "engaged in a scheme to dupe" her into assigning the valuable copyright to her book.

The complaint stated that "Pinkus' motive for engaging in this conduct appears related to his efforts to avoid M&O's efforts to collect on a judgment that it had recovered against VMI in a New York arbitration over entitlement to commissions on the works and authors (including Harper Lee) that Pinkus had diverted from M&O."

Pinkus allegedly created shell companies and bank accounts to route royalties for To Kill a Mockingbird before he was eventually pressured into assigning the copyright back to Lee.

Lee's lawsuit targeted Pinkus, as well as investigative journalist Gerald Posner; Pinkus' wife, Leigh Ann Winick, a television news producer; and others for what happened to her. Winick and Posner were dismissed from the lawsuit on Thursday.

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After Lee brought the lawsuit, M&O filed a new action in New York court against Pinkus, still looking to collect on money owed. The lawsuit brought out Pinkus' answer to Lee's charges. According to a motion, Pinkus denied that Lee had suffered from what had happened, saying, "Ms. Lee's assignment of the Mockingbird copyright specifically retained to her 'all rights to any revenue, financial benefit, royalties, or any benefit whatsoever derived from the exploitation of the Property, now or in the future.' The inconvenient real facts make for a much less interesting story."

To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, tells the story of a small-town lawyer named Atticus Finch, who defends an African-American man accused of rape. It's regarded as one of the classics of 20th century American literature and was adapted into a 1962 film starring Gregory Peck that won three Academy Awards.

Lee, now 87, hasn't written another book since the 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that made her famous.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner