Recent Academy Award nominee, Queen Latifah, is
among named defendants in a copyright lawsuit seeking $15 million over the box
office standout, “Bringing Down the House.”
Marie Flaherty, a New York attorney, claims to
have written a screenplay entitled “Amoral Dilemma,” whose plot is
strikingly parallel to that of “Bringing Down the House.”
In 1999, Boston based attorney, George N. Tobia
Jr. is purported to have agreed to represent Flaherty in her efforts to sell
Flaherty claims that several months later Tobia
notified her that he and a screenwriter friend, Jason Filardi had a script entitled
“Jailbait.com.” “Jailbait.com” would eventually become the
smash hit “Bringing Down the House.”
Both screenplays are based on an attorney who
unknowingly meets a prisoner online and the events that ensue. While both screenplays
have the same theme, they approach the material differently. Flaherty’s
screenplay is a drama, while “Bringing Down the House” is a comedy.
Flaherty claims that when she confronted Tobia
about the obvious congruencies, he continuously made the distinction that her
screenplay was a drama and Filardi was a comedy.
Flaherty’s suit names a plethora of defendants
including Queen Latifah, Walt Disney Co., who distributed the film, Hyde Park
Entertainment, who produced the film, Tobia, and Filardi.
As an attorney, Flaherty will represent herself
in the Manhattan federal court, where the suit was filed. She is seeking $15
million but feels the films success could influence the court to award her more.
Queen Latifah’s spokeswoman, Amanda Silverman,
did not have an immediate comment.