Clive Cussler spent years engaging in a costly, complicated lawsuit with Philip Anschutz over script approval on the film flop Sahara, based on one of Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels, which ended in a stalemate. (Both sides claimed victory but neither prevailed in winning attorney fees.) Now, Deadline reports, Cussler has filed a fresh complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that a man named John Fassett, who “represents himself as a motion picture and film producer,” has been representing that he controls the rights to Cussler’s Oregon Files series of adventure novels. The suit asserts that Fassett was “using names including Cussler Studios and Oregon Entertainment Group…to obtain substantial sums of money from third parties to which defendants are not entitled and by which defendants have been unjustly enriched.” Cussler seeks a permanent injunction against using his name or claiming rights to the book series, as well as punitive damages in the vicinity of $50 million.
In other legal news, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving a belated copyright dispute that arose from the 1980 movie Raging Bull. At issue is whether Paula Petrella, the daughter of Frank Petrella (who collaborated with boxer Jake LaMotta on a book and two screenplays) had standing in 2009 to sue the film’s producer MGM, asserting copyright status.
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Petrella had waited too long, but other lower courts contended Petrella had a case because copyright law’s three-year statute of limitations can reboot the clock with a fresh infringement action. In asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, Petrella’s lawyers argued that “Congress, not the courts, is responsible for weighing competing interests and policy considerations and setting a limitations period.” The studio countered that Petrella’s delay in suing was “egregious and entirely unjustified.”
Supreme Court filing