LDS author weaving a legal web
Ex-Webmaster claiming rights to books, suit says
PROVO The author whose books about tennis shoes in ancient American civilizations took the LDS fiction world by storm has filed another lawsuit alleging his creative works are being threatened.
Chris Heimerdinger and his attorney filed a lawsuit in 4th District Court in mid-February, alleging that a man Heimerdinger had worked with years ago to create a Web site, Michael Collins, has overstepped his relationship and is claiming rights to Heimerdinger's work.
"We believe Collins' positions are overblown and exaggerated," said Heimerdinger's attorney Douglas Thayer. "We are concerned about the impact they are having, or can have, on Chris' creative works."
Collins approached Heimerdinger in late 1998 at a book signing, asking if he could do a Web site for him, according to the lawsuit.
He allegedly said he would work for free, as long as he could use Heimerdinger's fame as a marketing tool for his Web design business, according to the complaint filed in 4th District Court.
The Web site, paid for by Heimerdinger, was up and running in June 1999 and in 2002 morphed to include an online bookstore, of which the profits were split 50/50 between the two men, according to the affidavit.
In a response from Collins' attorney, John Snow, they admit a Web site was created but "affirmatively allege that Heimerdinger wrongfully received more of the profits," according to the response.
In 2003, Heimerdinger wrote another book, "Passage to Zarahemla," which was published by a corporation Heimerdinger created in 2000. Heimerdinger went on to create a screenplay based on the book.
"Throughout this time period (and at all times afterward), Heimerdinger never gave Collins an interest in Heimerdinger's creative works," according to the complaint.
However, in Snow's response, they "admit that Collins has and continues to assert an interest in the film, and that Abbott has asserted such position on behalf of Collins." Nelson Abbott is Collins' first attorney who is also being sued in the lawsuit for trying to assert Collins' rights. He did not want to comment on specifics.
Snow said they also believe the business partnership was created on more than just a verbal agreement.
"There (was) a partnership of some kind between Collins and Heimerdinger," Snow said. "Now they're claiming some type of oral understanding, as opposed to a partnership. It's this partnership relationship that gave rise to the claim."
Heimerdinger's estranged wife, Catherine Elizabeth "Beth" Heimerdinger with whom he is involved in a divorce case is also being sued for allegedly helping Collins set up a defamatory Web site that outlines some of Heimerdinger's past legal history, which includes a conviction for a class B misdemeanor of criminal mischief.
Police say Heimerdinger broke his estranged wife's door by kicking it in on Jan. 9, 2006.
The most recent lawsuit alleges intentional interference with contractual relations, false light and invasion of privacy as well as conspiracy.
Collins' response, however, alleges that Heimerdinger's claims are barred as a result of the fault and wrongful conduct attributable to him, according to the document.
The lawsuit isn't the first Heimerdinger has filed against Collins. In 2006 there was a legal tangle in 3rd District Court over copyright issues.
"Because the state court can't or won't deal with the copyright issue, that's why we went to federal court," Thayer said of their October 2007 action. "In our representation of Chris ... we realized there were other claims we thought applicable and we decided to bring them against other parties and Mr. Collins."As a result they brought the new lawsuit to 4th District and expanded it to include Abbott and Heimerdinger's estranged wife.
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