Wednesday, May 12, 2010
SwordPen vs. Henry Holt and Davis Wright Tremaine
After nearly four years, a plagiarism lawsuit still continues in
Federal Court. But what makes this case so unique is that it is
between one of the biggest law firms in the world (Davis Wright
Tremaine)--and a single CEO (Zev Lewinson) acting pro se.
The following was the original court motion order and can be found on
the Pacer website for the United States District Court - Southern
District of New York:
SwordPen vs. Holt has been scheduled for oral argument on all pending
motions before the Honorable Kenneth M. Karas,United States
District Judge, on Wednesday, September 9,2009 at 10:00am in Courtroom
521,U.S.District Court, 300 Quarropas Street, White Plains, New York
10601. Oral Argument set for 9/9/2009 at 10:00 AM before Judge Kenneth
M. Karas. SO ORDERED (Signed by Judge Kenneth M. Karas).
Holt has retained the firm of Davis Wright Tremaine as defense counsel
in this "David versus Goliath" plagiarism suit. SwordPen Publisher CEO
Zev Lewinson is acting as pro se litigator in the case. After several
rounds of written arguments and repeated requests for dismisal by DWT,
alongside requests by Lewinson for discovery, both sides appeared
before His Honor Judge Karas. Davis Wright Tremaine is the prestigious
firm that waged an epic battle against Exxon for almost two decades in
the now historically infamous Valdez oil tanker spill.
DWT "won" the oral arguments and a forty seven page response was
written by Judge Karas. Saying that it was a "close call," Judge Karas
explained that he seldom writes more than a two or three page decision
to explain his views, and that many times he merely issues a statement
from the bench. That forty seven page response may one day become a
case study for how huge publishers can get away with stealing "ideas"
(that are not protected under copyright law) and change them (barely)
enough to avoid intellectual property theft. It's a case that many law
schools will surely enter into their curriculum.
(just Google lewinson vs. holt)
DWT then asked Mr. Lewinson if he would sign a document stating that
he will not appeal or refile the suit under the updated copyright of
his allegedly plagiarized story. For that signature they were willing
to forgo a request of fees for 108K spent by Holt as defendants. When
Lewinson refused to be intimidated, DWT filed the motion for fees, and
he and Holt's legal team were again asked to appear in court before
Judge Karas. At that meeting Judge Karas berated DWT and said that
"Mr. Lewinson is a very bright person ... and consulted with counsel
and acted in good faith ... to put it bluntly, I've seen a far less
(amount) of persuasive arguments and professionalism from (other
lawyers) than I've seen from Mr. Lewinson." His Honor continued in his
praise of Lewinson, saying ... "I think the way you have conducted
yourself in this lawsuit is actually quite admirable. It's not just
because I like your book (better than the dumbed down version
plagiarized by Karen Katz)." As Judge Karas continued his effusive
praise for Mr. Lewinson, he was interrupted by Mr.Balin (Holt's gun
for hire) in an effort to stop the flow of accolades. His Honor than
warned that Holt may continue with their motion but that it might be
more wise to quit while they are ahead (on technical grounds) and
behind (in the 108K in fees).
At that point the court warned that it would not grant fees and Mr.
Balin requested permission to withdraw his request for fees.
At the present Lewinson is deciding if he will refile the suit. "I
learned a lot the first time," Mr. Lewinson explained. "Holt knows
they are wrong. They tried to intimidate me and it backfired. I barely
understood what oral arguments were and was only able to devote a few
hours a week to deal with the onslaught of paper that they sent me. My
inexperience and lack of legal knowledge compared to Holt's well oiled
obfuscation machine and battery of legal talent was like a mouse
fighting a lion. But I learn fast and I am a writer. Most important,
the truth is on my side. That said, I'd still prefer to use my energy
in a positive way - producing more stories for the children of the
world. On the other hand ... I'd still love to go to discovery!"
Lewinson is waiting for his updated copyright at which time he will
decide whether or not to continue this ongoing saga. You can contact
him at firstname.lastname@example.org for documentation with regard to the suit.