Two writers allege that series creator Elizabeth Meriwether, pilot director Jake Kasdan and FOX stole their idea for the Zooey Deschanel-starring sitcom.
"New Girl" is at the center of a new copyright infringement lawsuit. Two screenwriters, Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold, filed the lawsuit in California federal court on Thursday, January 16, claiming that the FOX hit comedy series was ripped off from their work.
The plaintiffs claim the sitcom was based on their script for 2006's pilot "Square One". The proposed pilot itself was based on "Stephanie's real-life experience when she discovered her husband was having an affair, leading her to move into a three-man bachelor pad," the lawsuit says.
In the complaint, they point out there are "similarities between the shows' themes, structure, setting, overall story and plot arcs, specific plot devices, interpersonal twists, dialogue, sequence of events, tenor, specific scenes and elements of scenes, character identities, character personalities, character relationships, character interaction, character development, character idiosyncrasies, and character names."
The 90-plus documents also detail the possible chronology of how the "Square One" script could pass to the hands of "New Girl" creator Elizabeth Meriwether. "On February 17, 2011, Stephanie and Shari become dismayed when, for the first time, they hear that their work Square One appears to have been poached," part of the lawsuit reads.
The two writers first alerted FOX of the alleged copyright infringement issue in 2011. In January 2012, the defendants' attorneys allegedly made "a settlement offer to Stephanie and Shari of approximately $10,000 in an attempt to silence and prevent them from seeking formal legal action," but they refused it and called it a "paltry" offer.
They are now seeking compensatory, statutory, punitive and exemplary damages. They also want to be credited as the true creators and the defendants to "issue a public apology," adding that monetary damages are "inadequate to compensate them for the damage done."
Series creator Meriwether, pilot director Jake Kasdan and 20th Century Fox Television are named as defendants in the lawsuit.