'Potter' Lawsuit Plaintiff Fined


A federal judge has rejected a writer's claims that she was plagiarized by "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling and in turn fined her $50,000, saying she perpetuated a fraud.

U.S. District Judge Allen G. Schwartz found only minimal similarities between the multimillion-selling fantasy series and books by author Nancy Stouffer.

"The court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that Stouffer has perpetuated a fraud ... through her submission of fraudulent documents as well as through her untruthful testimony," the judge wrote in an opinion dated Tuesday.

The ruling was a summary judgment on claims and counterclaims dating back to 1999 between Stouffer and Rowling and her representatives, including Rowling's U.S. publisher, Scholastic Corp., and Time Warner Entertainment Co., which owns film and merchandising rights.

"We never had any doubt that Harry Potter and his world came from the rich and extraordinary imagination of J.K. Rowling," Scholastic President Barbara Marcus said.

Stouffer's attorney, Thomas McNamara, said he was considering new filings. "We were surprised and disappointed with the decision," he said. "We were particularly troubled by the court's determination that she submitted falsified evidence. She adamantly denies that."

Stouffer, of Camp Hill, Pa., has said she wrote several books in the 1980s, including "The Legend of Rah and the Muggles," and a series of "Larry Potter" stories. On her Web site (www.realmuggles.com), she said each title had a first printing of 100,000, and sold out within a week.

Rowling's first Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," came out in 1997.

"Rah and the Muggles" and some "Larry Potter" books were released last year by Thurman House, which has since gone out of business. Schwartz questioned whether Stouffer created her "Larry Potter" character before Rowling's series debuted.

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