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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Rodeo Champ Says Writer Roped Him

HOUSTON (CN) - Eight-time world champion calf roper Fred Whitfield sued his as-told-to biographer, claiming she agreed to write his story for 25 percent of the profits, but claimed 50 percent of them when she filed for copyright.

Whitfield sued Terri Powers in Harris County Court. Whitfield, who says he is an eight-time world champion in tie-down roping, claims Powers also is selling the book for $12.50 instead of the agreed-upon $15.

Whitfield has earned more than $2.4 million and is in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, according to an industry website.

Tie-down roping, also known as calf roping, is derived from real cowboy practice, in which a cowboy on a horse pursues a calf, ropes it and ties down its legs, to hold it for branding.

"Fred had never before revealed his history or life story to his multitudes of fans, so recognizing this opportunity, Terri approached Fred about doing a book," the complaint states.

Whitfield claims he was to get 75 percent of book sale profits, and Powers 25 percent.

He says he gave Powers a "one year exclusive period to write the book," and they agreed to hire a marketing agent.

"The book, 'Gold Buckles Don't Lie,' was then completed and began the finalizing process for printing. On February 10, 2013 Terri first proposed that they self publish 'Gold Buckles Don't Lie' as Ms. Powers explained that self publishing would yield a better collective than hiring a literary agent," according to the complaint.

When the books started selling, Whitfield says, Powers floated the idea of a screenplay.

But her "attitude changed" when money started to roll in from the book sales, Whitfield says, and she sent him a letter stating that she owned 50 percent of the copyright.

"When Fred refused to alter the terms of the original deal, Terri revealed she filed the copyright as a fifty-fifty (50/50) co-author/owner," the complaint states. "Further, Terri explained that since she had set up the printing account with Self Publish Inc., she was the only person who could request additional books be printed, or authorize release of books.

"This is despite the fact that Fred paid for the full printing of 'Gold Buckles Don't Lie.' Terry subsequently provided Fred with access to half of the books, insisting the other half are hers to sell and that Fred will get paid back."

Now she is marketing the book to wholesalers for $12.50 without his consent, Whitfield's says.

"Fred explicitly refused to give such consent, relying on the parties' earlier agreement to only sell the book for $15," the complaint states.

Whitfield seeks damages for breach of contract, conversion and breach of fiduciary duty.

He also seeks a restraining order to stop Powers from selling the 2,100 copies of "Gold Buckles Don't Lie," in the publisher's possession, and to stop her from selling any books for less than $15.

He is represented by Charles Vethan of Houston.

"Gold Buckles Don't Lie: The Untold Story of Fred Whitfield," was No. 28,976 this morning on Amazon.com's best-seller list. New copies were listed at $27.95 on Amazon.

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