Steinbeck Stepdaughter Wins $13M in Copyright Case

Waverly Kaffaga has been in a long legal fight with her relatives
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 7, 2017 8:57 AM CDT
Steinbeck Stepdaughter Wins $13M in Copyright Case
This undated file photo shows American author John Steinbeck.   (AP Photo, File)

A federal jury awarded John Steinbeck's stepdaughter more than $13 million in a lawsuit claiming the author's son and daughter-in-law impeded film adaptations of his classic works, per the AP. Jurors in Los Angeles found in favor of Waverly Kaffaga, who alleged that long-running litigation over Steinbeck's estate prevented her from making the most of his copyrights at a time when marquee names such as Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Lawrence were interested in bringing the novelist's masterpieces back to the screen. She claimed remakes of The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden fell apart over the years. Kaffaga, daughter of the late author's third wife, Elaine, sued the estate of stepbrother Thomas Steinbeck, who died last year; his widow, Gail; and their company.

The lawsuit followed a decades-long dispute between Thomas Steinbeck and Kaffaga's mother over control of the author's works. Thomas Steinbeck has lost most rounds in court, including a lawsuit he and the daughter of his late brother, John Steinbeck IV, brought that spurred Kaffaga to countersue in the current case. The jury decided in favor of Kaffaga and awarded her $5.25 million in compensatory damages and $7.9 million in punitive damages. Gail Steinbeck said in a statement that she was disappointed in the outcome but confident her side would prevail on appeal. (More John Steinbeck stories.)

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