Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

American Media Loses in Attempt to Obtain Manuscript From Former Employee

In In re Application of American Media, the plaintiff attempted to obtain the unpublished manuscript of a former employee who used her brief employment at one of the corporation's magazines, the Star, as fodder for a novel entitled "Dischalicious." The employee, Stephanie Green, admitted signing a confidentiality agreement, but resisted turning over a copy of the manuscript, saying "Yes, it was inspired by my life, but I haven't talked about what went on at the Star. The book is obviously a work of fiction." American Media argued that it needed the manuscript in order to "plead in its complaint the specific statements made by Green and support its claims for breach of the Confidentiality Agrement and breach of fiduciary duty. AMI also [sought] copies of any documents evidencing Green's communications with prospective as to obtain Green's description of the manuscript and `to give the publishers notice of Green's contractual obligations so that they won't tortiously interfere with such obligations.'

After noting that CPLR 3102(c) "`is available only where there is a demonstration that the party bringing such a petition has a meritorious cause of action and the information being sought is material and necessary to an actionable wrong' and `not allowed to determine whether fact supporting a cause of action exist', Judge Joan Madden found that "AMI [had] not met its burden of demonstrating that it has a potential cause of action against Green for breach of contract or breach of fiduciary duty...." In her approximately eight month tenure at the Star, Green served as a fact checker and researcher and did not have "access to trade secrets or proprietary information..., nor does AMI assert that Green intends to use any information to unfairly compete with AMI."

Read the entire decision here.

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