Harper Lee Settles Lawsuit Against Monroe County Heritage Museum

Posted on June 8, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee has settled her lawsuit against the Monroe County Heritage Museum. Ms. Lee sued the museum for a number of things, including selling unauthorized To Kill a Mockingbird souvenirs in its gift shop. The museum is located in the Monroe County courthouse which Ms. Lee used as the backdrop for the famous court room scene in the book. In the lawsuit, Ms. Lee also wanted the museum to give up the url www.tokillamockingbird.com.

The suit had been settled confidentially a couple of months ago, but the settlement document was never signed and implemented. So she refiled the lawsuit. The Guardian reports that Federal judge William H Steele of Mobile, Alabama, approved the settlement on Thursday and dismissed the case at the request of both parties.

No one knows exactly what the settlement documents say, but it looks like Ms. Lee got her website back. The museum has now moved its url to http://www.monroecountymuseum.org, although for now the old website rolls over to the new one; it's unclear if title to the url will transfer to Ms. Lee. There are no souvenirs from To Kill a Mockingbird for sale on the site. There is only a note saying souvenirs are only available at the museum's gift shop and not online. So it looks like Ms. Lee prevailed in the suit.

Matthew Goforth, the attorney for the museum issued a statement in which he apologized on behalf of the museum for suggesting that "Miss Lee is not in control of her own business affairs....To the extent that such an inference has been made, that inference is not proper and it is the museum's opinion that Miss Lee is very much in control of her business affairs." Ms. Lee is 88 years old and has suffered a stroke, and the author was reportedly furious at the suggestion that she could not handle her own affairs any longer. Ms. Lee lives in Monroeville, so it's a good thing that she and the museum have patched things up to her satisfaction.

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