Seinfeld cleared of defaming cookbook author
LOS ANGELES, Feb 26 — Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has been cleared of defaming an author who contended that his wife’s cookbook stole her ideas, in what his lawyers hailed as a victory for the right to tell jokes.
In a decision made public yesterday, New York State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman found that Seinfeld’s mocking tirade on television against cookbook author Missy Chase Lapine could not be considered defamation.
Friedman also dismissed Lapine’s plagiarism claims against HarperCollins, the publisher of Jessica Seinfeld’s “Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets To Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.”
“Seinfeld’s statements are protected not because they were made in a comedic context nor because they are themselves comedic, but because, as the context and content demonstrate, they are not defamatory as a matter of law,” Friedman said, referring to comments Seinfeld made on “The Late Show with David Letterman” in 2007.
Seinfeld’s law firm Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher said the decision “is a complete victory for Jerry — and also a victory for the First Amendment and the right of comedians to tell jokes.”
“The decision also vindicates HarperCollins and Jessica Seinfeld yet again, confirming what the two different federal courts have already ruled: Jessica independently created her bestselling book ‘Deceptively Delicious’,” the attorneys added.
Lapine’s attorney, Howard Miller, said “we are evaluating the opinion for an appeal.”
Lapine also lost a 2008 lawsuit in a New York federal appeals court in April in which she claimed Jessica Seinfeld plagiarised her book.
Seinfeld’s book, published in 2007, showcases techniques for sneaking healthy foods into child-friendly dishes.
Lapine’s book, published a few months earlier, was titled “The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals.”
In his “Late Show” appearance, Seinfeld joked that Lapine was a “whacko” who had accused his wife of “vegetable plagiarism.” — Reuters