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Judge throws out suit against 'The Help' author

August 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Mississippi judge has thrown out a lawsuit against the author of the book, "The Help," which recently opened as a movie.

Author Kathryn Stockett was accused of basing one of the book's characters on her brother's maid.

Ablene Cooper alleged Stockett used her likeness without permission in a book about relationships between white families and their black maids in the segregated South of the 1960s.

The character in question, Aibileen Clark, is played by Viola Davis in the movie.

Cooper sued, asking for $75,000 in damages.

Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green did not rule on the issue brought on by Cooper but dismissed the lawsuit, saying the one-year statute of limitations for filing suit had passed.

Besides the similarities in names, Cooper's lawsuit says she lost a son shortly before going to work for Stockett's brother, where she takes care of two children, a boy and a girl. Cooper's lawsuit says that's the same as the character portrayed in the book.

Stockett's defense team argued in court papers that Cooper and the character are not that similar.

"'The Help' does not use Mrs. Ablene Cooper's name. It uses the name Aibileen Clark. It does not paint a picture of Mrs. Ablene Cooper, middle-aged in 2011. It paints the picture of Aibileen Clark, middle-aged in 1962," the lawyers said in court filings.

Stockett's attorneys said in court records that Aibileen is based on the late Demetrie McLorn, the Stockett family's housekeeper, who died when the author was a teenager.

The movie debuted at No. 2 nationwide, bringing in $26 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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