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Mann v. Columbia Pictures, Warren Beatty and Robert Towne

128 Cal. App. 3d 628, 180 Cal. Rptr. 522 (1982)

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Mann v. Columbia Pictures, Warren Beatty and Robert Towne

California Court of Appeal

128 Cal. App. 3d 628, 180 Cal. Rptr. 522 (1982)

Facts

Bernice Mann (plaintiff) wrote an outline for a motion picture entitled Women Plus and registered the work with the Writers Guild of America. Through a mutual friend, Mann submitted Women Plus and one other work to an employee of Columbia Pictures (defendant). However, the employee never submitted it to Columbia and instead gave the two submissions to a story editor at the company Filmmakers. Filmmakers rejected the other submission via letter but never explicitly rejected Women Plus. Years later, Columbia released the film Shampoo. Mann filed suit against Columbia and the film writers, Warren Beatty and Robert Towne (defendants). Mann alleged that her submission amounted to an implied-in-fact contract. At trial, Beatty and Towne gave uncontroverted testimony that they never had access to Women Plus. Nevertheless, a jury found similarities between the films and awarded Mann $185,000. On defense counsel’s motion, the trial court entered a judgment notwithstanding the verdict and found that there was no evidence to support the jury’s finding. Mann appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stephens, J.)

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