After a California court of appeals ruled that a class action could go forward against Sony Pictures over its use of quotes from “ghost blurber” David Manning, the company said it was preparing to settle the case. (see Jun. 12, 2001). Judge Reuben Ortega, dissenting from his colleagues’ decision to let the suit proceed, wrote: “This is the most frivolous case with which I have ever had to deal. Imagine the great contribution this case will make to our quality of life and to justice in America. … A new day will dawn from which time no one will ever again be fooled by a promotion touting a movie as the greatest artistic accomplishment of the ages. From that day on, all persons will be able to absolutely rely on the truth and accuracy of movie ads. No longer will people be seen lurching like mindless zombies toward the movie theatre, compelled by a puff piece. … I cannot see breathing life into this farce. We should be occupying ourselves with resolving legitimate disputes instead of laughable cases designed not to gain anything for the plaintiffs, but rather to generate fees for the only true beneficiaries of this disgrace, the attorneys.” (opinion in PDF format).
Last year, Sony agreed to pay the state of Connecticut $325,000 following an investigation by grandstanding state AG Richard Blumenthal. The Connecticut connection that Blumenthal seized on? Well, it was that the (fictitious) Manning had been said to work for a (real) newspaper in Connecticut, the Ridgefield Press. “When the scandal was revealed, the Ridgefield Press demanded only an apology from Sony, which it got. ‘We’re not interested in grubbing money,’ [executive editor Jack] Sanders said. ‘A lot of people suggested we sue, but we’re not that kind of people. We just hope they don’t subpoena us to fly out and testify, unless they’re going to pay for transportation.'” (Emanuella Grinberg, “Moviegoers to settle with studio after being lured by phony critic”, CourtTV, Mar. 8). Update Aug. 3, 2005: Sony settles for $1.5 million.