A college baseball player turned filmmaker has filed suit against Warner Bros., the Gersh Agency, United Talent Agency, Malpaso Prods., screenwriter Don Handfield, director Robert Lorenz and several others, alleging that Warner Bros.’ “Trouble With the Curve” was lifted from the scripts and concept reel of one of his passion projects, “Omaha.”
Ryan A. Brooks filed suit in federal court in Los Angeles on Tuesday. In addition to copyright infringement, his suit also makes a series of claims including breach of contract, unjust enrichment and racketeering.
The movie’s star and producer, Clint Eastwood, was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The suit claims that Brooks’ Golden Glove Prods. in 2005 and 2006 developed “Omaha,” an original screenplay that was “strikingly similar” to “Trouble With the Curve.” It claims that Handfield, the writer Brooks contracted to pen and polish the “Omaha” script, eventually was involved in “camouflaging” the project so that it would become “Trouble with the Curve.” The suit further claims a “conspiracy” in a scheme to cover up the lineage of the project by enlisting an “imposter” writer, Randy Brown, to take credit for “Trouble with the Curve” even though he had but two small writing credits to his name and “was playing in a band that performed at weddings and gigs at places such as Monty’s Steak House.”
Among the similarities that Brooks claims between “Omaha” and “Trouble With the Curve” are that both projects are stories about an aging father, suffering a serious health issue, in the last year of his contract with a baseball organization. He also has experienced the death of his wife and has an estranged relationship with his 30ish daughter.
The suit challenges Brown’s credentials, claiming that he “admitted that he never traveled with any scouts, never worked as a scout or ever formally studied scouts” even though he is credited with a movie set in the world of baseball scouts. The suit notes that he had only minor experience playing baseball and is “not steeped in baseball knowledge by any stretch.” Brooks is a former college player at the University of Texas at Austin, and would have gone on to play professionally were it not for an injury. He then pursued a career in independent filmmaking.
The suit further states that Brown did not register the screenplay until early 2012, just as the project starting shooting.
Brooks’ attorney, Gerald P. Fox, said in a statement that “together with contracts signed by Handfield and testimony from top industry experts, writing analysis specialists and investigators, we have the evidence to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the perpetrators camouflaged Gold Glove’s script, used Ryan’s personal experiences, found a stand-in to pose as the writer and concocted stories to tell the press about the authenticity and origins of the screenplay.”
A spokesman for Warner Bros. said they had no comment, as did a spokesman for UTA. Handfield could not immediately be reached.
UTA and Ferraro are named in the suit as agents at the time for Handfield as well as for Randy Brown. Also named is a producer on “Trouble With the Curve,” Michele Weisler; Lorenz, the film’s director and Eastwood’s producing partner; and Gersh Agency and one of its agents, Jay Cohen. Cohen is named for allegedly being part of a scheme to slap the name of a previous production company on the cover of a version of the “Curve” screenplay “doctored to look like it had been sitting on the shelf for 15 years,” the suit claims.