An Alabama court will decide whether the case involving the upcoming Broadway play “To Kill a Mockingbird” will be adjudicated in Alabama or in New York.
That was the determination made by Monday U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in the Southern District Court of New York as similar cases have been filed in each state. However, as the Alabama court weighs the decision, the case in New York will proceed to trial on the issue of whether the Broadway play strays from the spirit of the novel, as has been alleged by the estate of Harper Lee.
A New York trial date has been set for June 4, 2018, rather than the previous date of May 21 proposed by the lawyers representing Scott Rudin’s production company, and is expected to last no more than two weeks.
So far the witness list in the trial is expected to include Tonja B. Carter, the lawyer representing Harper Lee, Timothy O’Donnell, Lee’s New York-based lawyer, Andrew Nurnberg, Lee’s literary agent, producer Scott Rudin, playwright Aaron Sorkin, one or two artistic experts and possibly general manager Joey Parnes.
The lawyers representing Rudin’s company had asked for expedited discovery and declaratory judgment in the case. Their argument was that the play would be canceled if the litigation was not resolved in a timely manner.
In court Monday, Judge Torres said she found that the plaintiffs had a “compelling” reason for speedy action.
Still, the scheduled trial in New York may be interrupted and the entire case could be moved to the Southern District of Alabama court, where the estate of Harper Lee originally filed suit against Rudinplay, if that court decides the matter should be decided there.