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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Filched ‘Revolutionary Road’ Can’t Support Suit

(CN) - A JFK staffer cannot pursue privacy claims against the bookseller who advertised his sale of an autographed tome that had been stolen from her, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled.

Helen Abdouch was executive secretary of John F. Kennedy's Nebraska campaign for president in 1960. Three years later, she received an autographed copy of the book "Revolutionary Road" by Richard Yates.

At some point, her book was stolen. Someone in Georgia sold it to Ken Lopez Bookseller, a Massachusetts company, which then sold the book to a customer who does not live in Nebraska.

Abdouch does not own a computer, but a friend told her that Lopez was advertising his website with the inscription from her stolen book - "For Helen Abdouch - with admiration and best wishes. Dick Yates. 8/19/1963." The inscription was accompanied by the word "SOLD."

Lopez sells rare book on his website, through catalogs and at antique book fairs. Only two of the 1,000 customers on his mailing list are from Nebraska, and he has never sold books at a fair in Nebraska.

After Abdouch sued him and his company for invasion of privacy, Lopez said he had not tried to get the original owner's permission because he "assumed she was dead."

A Douglas County judge dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction based on Lopez's lack of regular business in the Cornhusker State.

The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed last week.

"Here, Abdouch's cause of action is an intentional tort based on Nebraska's privacy statute. There is no evidence, as discussed in greater detail later in the opinion, that Lopez and KLB purposefully directed the advertisement at Nebraska," Justice Michael McCormack wrote on behalf of five other unanimous justices.

"Further, there is no evidence that Lopez and KLB intended to invade Abdouch's privacy in the state of Nebraska," he added.

"Revolutionary Road" was adapted into a 2008 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Justice Lindsey Miller-Lerman did not participate in the decision.

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