A lawsuit against Emma Cline and her US publisher Random House alleging the author had plagiarised parts of her debut novel The Girls (Chatto & Windus) from her ex-boyfriend Chaz Reetz-Laiolo, has been thrown out of a California Federal court.
An attempt to counter-sue Reetz-Laiolo on grounds of domestic violence was also dismissed, because the court found it was outside the statute of limitations. Three claims against Reetz-Laiolo, for conversion of her computer records, for tortious interference in her business relationships, and for intentional infliction of emotional distress, are still pending.
Cline had been accused of using spyware to access her former boyfriend Reetz-Laiolo’s email and other accounts, while her US publisher Random House was also named in the suit, accused of knowingly releasing plagiarised content when it published the book in June 2016.
Now, according to Publishers Lunch, US District Judge William Orrick has dismissed the copyright infringement claims by Reetz-Laiolo. Although citing "similarities between the works", Judge Orrick believed there were "few objective similarities" between his and Cline’s writing "and no substantive ones".
The order was issued on 28th June after Judge Orrick heard arguments from both Cline and Reetz-Laiolo to dismiss each other’s lawsuits on 11th April.
Cline told The Cut following the judgement: "I’m extremely gratified that a judge has dismissed the meritless claims against my novel, The Girls, and very thankful for the support I’ve received from the writing community. As deeply painful as it has been to bring this dispute into the light, I’m glad I did not capitulate. My book is and always has been my own."
A Random House spokesperson said in a statement: "We are pleased that the Court has put to rest these unfounded claims against our author Emma Cline. And we are proud to stand by Cline and her remarkable debut novel."
Cline's claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress and tortious interference in her business relationships survive alongside other claims made by Reetz-Laiolo, including in relation to invasion of privacy and trespass. In relation to allegations that Cline illicitly downloaded a copy of her ex boyfriend's draft screenplay, Reetz-Laiolo has leave to re-file his copyright infringement suit against Cline by the end of July "if he can plausibly state a claim for intermediate copying".