‘To Kill a Mockingbird’|Suit Moults Defendants

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Harper Lee has dropped some defendants from her lawsuit over the allegedly stolen royalties and copyright to her only novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
     The author filed the notice of dismissal in Federal Court on Thursday, saying simply, “this action is dismissed in its entirety, with respect to defendants Lee Ann Winick and Gerald Posner.”
     Lee’s attorney, Gloria Phares of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, did not immediately return a call for comment.
     Winick, the daughter of Lee’s former literary agent, Eugene Winick, is married to Samuel Pinkus, whom Lee accuses of exploiting her failing health to seize the rights to her 1960 novel.
     “To Kill a Mockingbird” brought a Pulitzer Prize to Lee, who is now 87 and lives a mostly secluded life in Monroeville, Ala. It novel sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and was made into an Oscar-winning film starring Gregory Peck.
     Eugene Winick allegedly represented Lee for four decades, through the firm Mackintosh & Otis (M&O), until he became seriously ill in 2002.
     At this point, “defendant Pinkus, took the opportunity to divert several M&O clients to a new company that Pinkus controlled, Veritas Media, Inc. (‘VMI’), and then engaged in a scheme to dupe Harper Lee, then 80 years old with declining hearing and eyesight, into assigning her valuable TKAM copyright to VMI for no consideration,” according to the complaint Lee filed in May.
     Pinkus allegedly preyed upon Lee amid the declining health of her attorney and most trusted adviser, her sister Alice Lee, now 101. The sister had remained Harper Lee’s attorney until late 2011.
     Lee claimed that she had no memory of agreeing to relinquish her rights to the book, nor of ever discussing such a thing. She claimed Pinkus often visited her in Alabama, “especially when he had papers that needed to be signed.”
     The complaint described Posner as a New York City lawyer who incorporated Philologus Procurator, which she also named as a defendant.
     Keystone Literary, the company of which Lee Ann Winick is president, is also a defendant.
     Lee said that defendant Veritas Media is operated out of the Pinkuses’ home in Hastings on Hudson, N.Y. She also named Nassau Marketing as a defendant, saying the Brooklyn company shares an address for service with Keystone.
     In the lawsuit, the plaintiff goes by her full name Nelle Harper Lee. Before the Thursday filing, there had not been a docket entry in the case since August.
     On Aug. 13, the court admitted Pepper Hamilton attorney Vincent Carissimi to appear pro hac vice for Pinkus.
     According to an entry from one week earlier, answers to the complaint were due on Aug. 16 from all of the defendants.
     Carissimi told the New York Post that his client, Pinkus, and the other defendants had reached a settlement with Lee that should lead to the case’s dismissal. He reportedly declined to discuss specifics.

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