A judge in Jackson, Miss., has dismissed the lawsuit against Kathryn Stockett, author of “The Help.”
The Associated Press reports that on Tuesday morning Circuit Court Judge Tomie Greene granted Stockett’s motion for summary judgment, i.e., dismissal of the case, because the lawsuit was filed after a one-year statute of limitations had elapsed. Ablene Cooper, a housekeeper for the family of Stockett’s brother, filed the suit last February, more than two years after the popular novel was published and more than a year after Stockett reportedly gave Cooper a copy of the book. Cooper claimed that a key character in the book — Aibileen Clark, played by Viola Davis in the recently released movie adaptation — used her image and likeness without permission.
The judge made no ruling on the matter of whether Stockett really did borrow from Cooper; the statute of legal limitations made the whole case moot, she ruled.
Cooper’s attorney, Edward Sanders, said he will consider an appeal. Stockett was not in the Jackson courtroom for Tuesday morning’s hearing. But a visibly upset Cooper was. Camera crews captured her on video after the ruling, screaming that Stockett was a liar. “She knows she did it!” Cooper yelled. (See video below.)
Cooper could opt to appeal, meaning that this case may not yet be over.