Harper Lee’s Suit Against Former Literary Agent Dismissed

Author Harper Lee
Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- A lawsuit by Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” against her former literary agent for allegedly depriving her of royalties was dismissed.

Lee agreed to terminate the suit against her former agent, Samuel Pinkus, and other defendants, according to a federal court filing in Manhattan yesterday. No details of the agreement were disclosed.

“The parties have reached an agreement; the case has been dismissed; and Harper Lee, a very private person, is resuming her private life,” Gloria Phares, a lawyer for Lee with Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, said in an e-mail.

Lawyers for the 87-year-old author had claimed the agent and others took advantage of her age and infirmity to deprive her of royalties. Lee was in an assisted-living facility when she signed a document that assigned her copyright to the book to Pinkus’s company, according to the complaint.

“All of my clients are pleased to reach a resolution of this with Ms. Lee,” Vincent Carissimi, a lawyer for the defendants with Pepper Hamilton LLC, said in a telephone interview. “Her interests were never in jeopardy. The assignment of the copyright expressly reserved to her all income generated by ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’”

The defendants also included Leigh Ann Winick, described as Pinkus’s wife, and Gerald Posner, a New York lawyer and journalist who incorporated one of Pinkus’s businesses, according to the complaint.

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” a novel about racial inequality in the American South, was published in 1960 and won a Pulitzer Prize. The 1962 film won three Oscars, including one to Gregory Peck as best actor and one to Horton Foote for the screenplay.

The case is Lee v. Pinkus, 13-cv-03000, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net