Other Notable Cases


The Bell Jar

In 1987, a Harvard psychiatrist who claimed she was the basis of The Bell Jar character Joan Gilling won a judgment of $150,000 against producers of a 1979 film based on the 1963 novel.

The Help

After publishing The Help in 2009, author Kathryn Stockett was sued for $75,000 in damages by Ablene Cooper, who claimed that details of her life had been misappropriated as the basis for the character of Aibileen Clark. The case was dismissed when a judge determined that it had not been filed within the one-year statute of limitations.

Three Cups of Tea

In 2011, best-selling author and Nobel Prize nominee Greg Mortenson was accused of fabricating events in his memoir Three Cups of Tea, and mismanaging the funds of his charitable organization, Central Asia Institute. The Institute claimed to have overseen the construction of over 171 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Montana Attorney General investigated and required Mortenson to make restitution of around $1 million. Readers later filed an unsuccessful class-action lawsuit against Mortenson and his co-author, publisher, and non-profit for fraud and racketeering.

Jay-Z, Dan Brown, J.K. Rowling

In 2012, Jay-Z was sued for alleged plagiarism in Decoded, his best-selling book of personal essays and annotated lyrics. Both Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling have faced multiple lawsuits from other authors charging copyright infringement. None of these suits has been successful.

  1. The Da Vinci Code (DVD). Culver City: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2006
  2. Jay-Z. Decoded. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2010.