A federal judge tossed out a screenwriter’s claim that Warner Bros.’ “Trouble with the Curve” was ripped off from his idea, and she refused to even rule on the merits of other claims that the studio and others engaged in a “conspiracy” to cover up the project’s lineage.
Ryan Brooks claimed that his idea for a project called “Omaha” was lifted for “Trouble with the Curve,” and that the credited screenwriter for “Curve” was in fact an “impostor” to cover up its true writer.
But U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer wrote that there were not substantial similarities to the plot and sequence of events, and that areas where they were similar, like a father-daughter baseball story, were more general concepts not protected by copyright. She had indicated on Monday that she was inclined to rule in favor of Warner Bros.’ motion for summary judgment.
She wrote that while both projects have as their leads “gruff, old-school, irascible, stubborn widowers who miss their wives and have difficulty communicating with their daughters,” they are “far from a unique character.”
Rather, she wrote in a 10-page opinion that the character flows “naturally” from the project’s shared premise of a baseball-devoted father attempting to become close to his daughter. The themes, she wrote, are “inherent to many father-daughter stories.”
She declined to rule on Brooks’ other claims and motions, like fraud, and even admonished Brooks’ legal team for violating the federal Rule of Civil Procedure’s “short and plain statement” requirement, with a complaint that is 112 pages long and contained 331 paragraphs, with much spent “touting Plaintiffs’ irrelevant accolades, providing unnecessary backstory, and insulting Defendants.”
She did say that Brooks could file a second amended complaint on his other claims but not to exceed 40 pages.
The credited screenwriter, Randy Brown, issued a statement after a hearing in the case on Monday. “Anyone who knows me, knows my journey, how hard I’ve worked, and continue to work. And it’s incredibly disappointing that someone with money and malice can wreak such negativity.”