Law in Popular Culture

Harper Lee's estate settles litigation over Broadway adaptation of 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

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Harper Lee in a 2007 file photo (Rob Carr/AP).

The estate of Harper Lee has reached a settlement in litigation over its objections to a Broadway adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird.

The estate and the production company Rudinplay announced the settlement Thursday, but provided few details. The New York Times and Law360 have coverage.

The estate had claimed in a March lawsuit that the adaptation strayed too far from the spirit of the novel, violating a licensing agreement Lee signed in 2015 with Rudinplay. The suit was filed in Alabama federal court after the writer of the adaptation, Aaron Sorkin, indicated in interviews that Atticus Finch would evolve during the play, partly through interactions with the family’s black maid.

Rudinplay filed its own lawsuit the next month in Manhattan federal court that alleged the dispute could cause financial backers to retreat, causing $10 million in damages. Producer Scott Rudin offered to stage the play in a federal courthouse for the benefit of the court, but a federal magistrate judge told Rudin to instead submit a recorded version instead.

On Monday, the Alabama federal court transferred the estate’s suit to Manhattan federal court, Law360 previously reported.

According to the parties’ joint statement, Sorkin is still on board as writer. Opening night of the play is scheduled for Dec. 13 at the Shubert Theater with Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch.

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