In a somewhat sensationalist story, a woman in Los Angeles is suing the makers of 2010 comedy film ‘Death at a Funeral’ for copyright infringement, alongside a host of other complaints.
Pamela Lawrence is claiming that the film ripped off her 1995 book – “Caught on Video … The Most Embarrassing Moment de Funeral, July 11, 1994, Jamaican Volume 1” – about an embarrassing experience at a funeral. She lists in legal documents a number of similarities between the two works, including characters, incidents and settings. She also has a video tape of her real life experience, which she used to write the book, to use as evidence.
In addition to theft of intellectual property, Ms Lawrence also makes a number of other serious allegations. The 54-page document lists complaints, based on past dealings and legal conflicts between Ms Lawrence and the film’s producers, including:
• Breach of confidence
• Unfair business practices
• Unfair competition
• Interference with economic advantage
• Breach of contract
Amongst many others, the defendants named in the lawsuit are Tristar, Sony, Columbia Pictures, Target Media, director Neil LaBute and the star of the film, comedian Chris Rock. Ms Lawrence is seeking $20 million in damages and a 66% share of the film’s gross profits.
Even if these allegations prove to be unfounded, each of the defendants may have to rely heavily on their professional indemnity insurance policies to cover the extensive legal costs of fighting each individual complaint.