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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Cool Papa Bell's Daughter in Suit Against Topps

The WSJ Law Blog picks up on a New York Sun story regarding a lawsuit filed by the daughter of James "Cool Papa" Bell against baseball card giant Topps. The Law Blog explains:
Bell’s daughter, Connie Brooks, sued Topps over its description of Bell on the back of a 2001 baseball card. The squib said Cool Papa “earned his nickname after falling asleep right before a game.” In court papers, his daughter calls this a “bogus painful lie.” It belittles the hard lives of Negro League players and suggests her dad was an alcoholic or drug addict, she says, adding, “[t]hey take a Negro Leaguer and think it’s okay to make him a little buffoonish, a little clownish, and suggest that he’s nodding off.”
Although Topps has offered the plaintiff a $35,000 settlement, which she rejected, commentators do not expect her to have much success in court, according to the WSJ blog:
Legal beagles say the suit looks dead on arrival. The deceased cannot be defamed under New York libel law, says Peter Harvey, a partner at Patterson Belknap. Harvey passes on some free legal advice to the daughter via the Sun, suggesting a better argument would be that Topps can’t use Bell’s likeness without the permission of his estate.
For more on the dispute, see here and here.


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