Judge Denies Similarity Claim in ‘Trouble With the Curve’ Lawsuit (Updated)

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Warner Bros. wins summary judgment in copyright infringement case; door still open for plaintiffs to file new amended complaint

The “Trouble With the Curve” copyright infringement lawsuit is having a hard time getting on base.

Warner Bros. won summary judgment Tuesday against a former college ballplayer who claimed the Clint Eastwood film about an aging baseball scout was stolen from his idea. Judge Dale Fisher ruled that the plaintiff, Ryan Brooksfiled, had not demonstrated enough similarity between his script and the completed film.

Also read: Ballplayer’s Lawsuit Claims Clint Eastwood’s ‘Trouble With the Curve’ Called for the Steal

From the ruling:

Defendants’ cross-motion for summary judgment re similarity is GRANTED, Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment re similarity is DENIED, Plaintiffs’ motion for continuance is DENIED, and the motion to strike the FAC is GRANTED. All other outstanding motions are DENIED as MOOT.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

The judge did leave the door open for the plaintiffs to file a second amended complaint by March 24, stipulating that it be no more than 24 pages in length.

The 119-page action filed in a Los Angeles federal district court in October said “Curve” was lifted from Ryan A. Brooks’ “Omaha,” described as “the first baseball movie focusing on a father-daughter relationship.” It claimed Brooks hired screenwriter Don Handfield in 2005, but the two had a falling out, and that Handfield then shared his work with his UTA agent, “setting in motion a conspiracy to rework ‘Omaha’ into ‘Trouble With the Curve.'”

Randy Brown, the previously obscure screenwriter who is credited with penning  “Curve,” took little solace from the latest ruling.

“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.”

Both “Curve” and “Omaha” center on an aging baseball maven in his last year with the organization who is in ill health, grieving the death of his wife and his estranged relationship with his daughter, the plaintiffs claim — but that wasn’t enough for the judge.

Clint Eastwood‘s company, Malpaso Productions Ltd., produced the film released in Sept. 2012 by Warner Bros. The studio and Malpaso are named as defendants; Eastwood himself was not.