Thursday, May 5, 2011

Help author was "terrified" and "not real creative with the names"

Ablene Cooper responded last week to a motion for summary judgment filed by The Help author Kathryn Stockett. Ms. Cooper works as a maid and babysitter for Ms. Stockett's brother and sister-in-law. Ms. Cooper sued Ms. Stockett for damages in February. Ms. Cooper claimed Ms. Stockett used her identity and likeness without her permission with the character "Abilene" to portray her in a "false light".

Ms. Cooper claims Ms. Stockett "fraudulently induced" her to "believe The Help was no big deal. Ms. Cooper claims the book was rejected no less than sixty times. The response includes a quotes from an 2009 interview (last page of documents posted below) with the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

"When I was writing this book I never thought anyone else would read it, so I didn't get real creative with the names. I just used people I knew. Some of them aren't talking to me right now, but I feel like they'll come around...."

"I was terrified when I realized it was going to be published."

Needless to say, Ms. Cooper uses this statements to argue Ms. Stockett was terrified because she allegedly misappropriated identities and would be found out after publication. The rest of the response merely restates the alleged injuries and damages outlined in the complaint and Ms. Cooper's affidavit (The two documents are included below.).

Earlier posts:
Author of The Help fires back
NY Times has new facts
Maid sues author of The Help


Anonymous said...

Kathryn just needs to pay the $75,000 and move on. It's not like she doesn't have it. And when the movie comes out, please...

Kingfish said...

Am not surprised. My understanding is Ms. Stockett's father will not speak to her. She made it sound like (at the end of the book in her personal note) her father stuck her in a motel all the time when she was a kid. Wasn't too flattering the way she put it. What actually happened was he had several rooms altered and connected so the kids could be up there at the hotel he owned when he had to work during the weekends so he could spend time with them but had a maid for support. Basically a hard-working small business owner who went to some trouble to arrange things so he could spend time with his kids when he had them while working(Couple was divorced.). Completely different than the way she portrayed it in the book. Needless to say he wasn't too happy and they don't speak from what I am told.

bill said...

I still say that making contingency fees illegal would solve a lot of this nonsense. Not saying attorneys don't deserve to get paid for their work - quite the contrary in risky cases like this - but if their pay was calculated by the hours worked and not as a percentage of the award I don't think they'd be as interested in filing a suit in the hope of settling with a rich person. Bill Billingsley

Anonymous said...

If contingency fees were illegal, cases like this would rarely have their day in court. Nonetheless, I fail to see what an overhaul of the attorney/client payment structure has to do with the merits of this claim and its defense.

Anonymous said...

If contingency fee cases were outlawed, only the rich could hire attorneys. Every case has an element of risk.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Cooper needs to drop the "get rich quick scheme" by suing...apparently she got the "one call, that's all" number while ironing and watching a Soap.
If she were smart, she would embrace the book, jump on the bandwagon and could make a fortune on the talk show circuit, possibly writing her own book...but instead, she unfortunately decided to take the "get rich quick" route with a law suit...

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, I grew up and spent nights down at the hotel with the Stockett children and unless you did the same, you have no information about the arrangements her dad made and why. She had good reason to write what she wrote and if her dad still doesn't get it after all these years, he never will.

Anonymous said...

5:24 Get rich quick? 75k is not rich. Ms Cooper is compared to a coachroach. If this were you or your loved one you'd be the first person in line to sue. And fyi..Cooper can still do talk shows and I hope she does so and makes money insodoing.

Anonymous said...

4:25 is right and a smarter lawyer would have encouraged her to do just that and sign on as her agent.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 12:38; she should just settle this and move on. Maybe she will be more prudent about the line between fiction and fact with her next novel (should there be one).

Anonymous said...

The folks on here who assume that Ms. Cooper is out to "get rich quick" and are critical of her for that assumed motive are comical in then suggesting better avenues for her to exploit Ms. Stockett. Good old circular thinking.

Has it ever crossed your minds that she is not attempting to "get rich"? Maybe, just maybe, she didn't want her name used and was truly upset by what occurred. Maybe she is upset that she's in the public eye at all. That is what the law at issue is all about. I doubt netting $40,000 is going to help her retire forever.

Perhaps someone who avers in a lawsuit that they don't want their name to be appropriated and used in public MIGHT ALSO not want to "hit the talk show circuit" to make more money. That's actually not so far-fetched. Maybe it's about making a point.

Pretty cynical group on this.

Andrew Newcomb

gingerht1 said...


Micah said...

Just another movie that makes Mississippi look like a bunch of Rednecks from the sticks. Atleast "In the Heat of the Night" make us look better. God I love Reruns...

Lisa said...

I hated the book after reading the pie incident as well. No one would ever do that. I did just see an interview on youtube from 2009 where Stockett says her mom and dad and stepmother are behind her and they're glad the book was published. I still don't understand why the book was such a bestseller.

Anonymous said...

If you quit reading it there, you missed the real point of the book and think it only about how white people treated their help.

I,too, was living during those times and while some people did have positive relationships with their help and realized they were people with families needing to make ends meet, there were quite a few who did not. They expected their maid to be at their beck and call to babysit as well as do housework and actually thought taking the maid along on vacation was a " treat" for the maid. They never honored a 40 or even 60 hour work week. They paid well below minimum wage.
It is those Mississippians that are still racists and those who shoot off their mouth before getting the facts and those who defend the bad behavior of our well to do and corrupt politicians and who can't accept their isn't and shouldn't be a statute of limitation on murder that make us continue to look bad, not a movie or book.
The rest of the world can discern between a setting in the past and one in the present and won't think we're still that way until we confirm it to them. Just as seeing a movie about the Germans and Japanese in WWII doesn't make us think Germany and Japan are still like that.
Another way we confirm we're rednecks is by overreacting to this book and not understanding that in fiction, not all events are actual but can be for shock value.
But, if you think those who serve you food or serve you period don't ever take revenge on unpleasant customers/employers, you are terribly naive. Maybe not specifically in that way and that dramatically, but there are other ways to exact a little revenge.
People are still paying their maids " under the table" and paying them out of business accounts without giving them the same benefits as other employees of the business. They are still not paying them when they go out of town and the maids lose days. Never would occur to them that the maid needs a reliable income.
If people weren't still treating their help with a lack of respect those who have worked for me wouldn't find my ordinary appreciation for their good work so astonishing as to mention it.
Pay attention to the difference in how the bloggers react to white political dumbassery and corruption than they do to those of black politicians. KF, to his credit, doesn't, but read the blogging comments.

Anonymous said...

The author knew that she shouldn't have done what she did. And, now the bitch thinks she doesn't have to make restitution for her dumbass mistakes--which hurt innocent people. The dumbass could have given up the $75K already and saved her more embarrassment of more facts unfolding (like the interview) that only make her seem more guilty.

auburn rat...ohhhh golly gosh said...

Is the "hotel" in question that haj lodge down on the fair grounds? If so, how far hath the mighty fallen? It's been flooded twice and now takes um hourly.

Anonymous said...

4:59 Do you not know that Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald based their books on real people and real events ? And,they are not alone. The list of authors who have done just exactly what Stockett did is extensive as is the negative reaction of those who didn't like their portrayal...of particular note is Hemingway's Moveable Feast.
Hemingway wasn't sued. He lost a friend, but wasn't sued.
The author of Peyton Place had to leave town.

But, more strange here is that Aibelene is a sympathetic character, not a bad one. It's the Hilly character that is the villan of the book.

Knowing nothing about literature is understandable. But, how does one get through high school and not know that a few sentences and paragraphs can't be lifted out of context to make a point about a book? Whether it's The Help or Madison or Jefferson's work, the stupidity of taking things out of context should have been learned. And that you've not read a book if you only read part of it or what someone else tells you about it.

Anonymous said...

Writers use events out of real life all the time. What I don't understand is a writer who lacks the ability to even come up with substitute names. Sounds like Stockett is the LEAST creative human being on the planet.

Auburn Rat said...

Please....Stockett ain't no Hemingway! Though it's an interesting read she has there, it is like she wote it to be a screen play. Alot like Grisham's books, they all follow a formual. I'll bet her next book follwos a similar story lline but with some other oppressed gettin Help senario. I am still gonna see this movie. It will be good.

Anonymous said...

No one said she was Hemingway, simply that writing from experiences and observation of people is common.

She did change names, just not enough to satisfy make them completely unrecognizable.

Further, many times just using a person's similar name is considered an honor when the character is sympathetic or the person well treated or benign . Some folks should be flattered as well. But, for sure, no one outside of Mississippi would have a clue the characters were anything but fictional if they hadn't reacted in such a way to make it clear that they recognized themselves and others.

The smart reaction is " that's not me, she always just LOVED the way my name sounded. I'm so flattered she found a way to use it".

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