A screenwriter who contends his idea was stolen for Warner Bros.’ “Trouble with the Curve” is now claiming that the studio is relying on “fraudulent documents” in presenting evidence that the movie was hatched well before he came up with his own project.
Attorneys for Ryan A. Brooks filed a brief on Monday that contends that forensic experts have determined that floppy disks on which the pic’s credited screenwriter, Randy Brown, stored his scripts were “manipulated” to “present inaccurate information about date of creation.”
Warner Bros. and other defendants in the suit are seeking a summary judgment to dismiss the case, in which Brooks claims that there was a “conspiracy” to cover up the lineage of the pic’s screenplay. He contends that his idea for a project called “Omaha” was lifted for “Trouble with the Curve,” which was released in 2012 and grossed about $49 million at the worldwide box office.
“The lawsuit is reckless and a waste of time and money,” Warner Bros. said in a statement. “The allegations are false.”
Warner Bros. and other defendants cite a “Trouble with the Curve” script that Brown wrote in the 1990s, starting while he was in a screenwriting class at UCLA, and one that sold to The Bubble Factory in 1997. That would predate Brooks’ “Omaha” project.
Brooks, represented by attorney Gerard P. Fox, contends in the latest filing that Trevor Reschke, identified as a former U.S. Army counterintelligence special agent and digital investigator, examined the floppy disks and also found that there were codes in the data and a 3M brand of disk that were not on the market at the time the scripts were said to be created. The filing also questions a scene in the floppy disk scripts in which a character uses a wireless laptop to read out advanced baseball metrics. Brooks contends that such a technique was popularized years later in Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball” in 2003 that had yet to catch on in Major League Baseball.
In its effort to get the case dismissed, the studio also submitted copies of the script, letters promoting it and a 1997 coverage report.
“This extensive and overwhelming evidence of prior creation — which refutes any claim of copying under the well-established case law — cannot reasonably be disputed and shows that plaintiffs’ claims of copying are without merit and should be dismissed now, with prejudice,” Warner Bros.’ attorney, Matthew T. Kline of O’Melveny & Myers, wrote in a motion for summary judgment last month.
U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 24.
Other defendants in the suit include Brown, Malpaso Co., director Robert Lorenz and producer Michele Weisler. Clint Eastwood, the movie’s star, is not named.