Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Publisher Wins Reversal of Judgment In Holocaust Memoir Case

A Massachusetts appellate court has issued a third (and it indicates that it hopes the final) ruling in the case of Mt. Ivy Press v. Misha Defonseca (born Monique de Wael). The press published Ms. Defonseca's Holocaust memoir, Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years in 1997, in which Ms. Defonseca told a tale of having lost her parents in a concentration camp, lived with wolves and killing a German soldier. Investigation later showed these stories to be false. Ms. Defonseca was Catholic, and although her parents did die at the hands of the Nazis, it was because they were members of the Resistance.

In 1998, Ms. Defonseca and her ghost writer, Vera Lee, sued and won a $32 million judgment against Mt. Ivy Press for failing to turn over profits from sales of the book. Mt. Ivy's publisher, Jane Daniel, then began to investigate Ms. Defonseca's story and discovered that it was untrue. She asked the courts to reverse the $22.5 million judgment against her as to Ms. Defonseca, which they have now done. The judgment against her with regard to Ms. Lee, however, remains in place.

The case is Mt. Ivy Press, L.P. v. Defonseca, 2014 Mass. App. LEXIS 42.

More coverage here from the Los Angeles Times. Discussion of the impact of the book and how information about Ms. Defonseca's childhood came to light here.

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