Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

DE BARDOSSY v. PUSKI

April 24, 1991

CLAIRE KENNETH DE BARDOSSY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SANDOR PUSKI AND CORVIN HUNGARIAN BOOKS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martin, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Claire Kenneth De Bardossy, a Hungarian born writer of romance novels, commenced this copyright action against Sandor Puski and Corvin Hungarian Books to recover damages for and to enjoin the defendants' allegedly unauthorized publication of plaintiff's novels in Hungary. Defendants interposed a counterclaim which sought a declaration that they have the right to publish plaintiff's works in the Hungarian language in any locale in the world.

The matter is now before the Court on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's claims. Accordingly, both plaintiff's complaint and defendants' counterclaim are dismissed.

BACKGROUND

According to the complaint, plaintiff was born and raised in Hungary and lived there until 1956 with her husband, Paul De Bardossy, and their son. Paul De Bardossy's uncle, Laszlo Bardossy, was the Prime Minister of Hungary in 1941 and 1942. During that time, Laszlo Bardossy declared war on the Soviet Union, was arrested in 1945 and was executed in 1946.

Given the Communist takeover of Hungary and the familial connections between plaintiff and Laszlo Bardossy, plaintiff was forced to adopt a non de plume — Claire Kenneth — in order to have her books published in Communist Hungary.

In 1946 and 1947, plaintiff wrote two highly successful romance novels entitled "Night in Cairo" and "Rendezvous in Rome" (respectively the "Cairo book" and the "Rome book"). Sometime thereafter, plaintiff's true identity was discovered. Accused of being a "class enemy," plaintiff's works were banned and she was deported to an undeveloped area and drafted to do forced labor.

During the turmoil created by the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, plaintiff, her son and her husband, who himself had been imprisoned for three years for attempting to enter Austria, escaped from Hungary and settled in the United States.

Plaintiff resumed her writing after arriving in New York. Ultimately, plaintiff met defendant Sandor Puski sometime in the 1970's. Puski, also Hungarian born, states that he was a book publisher in Hungary from 1938 until 1950 when the Hungarian government nationalized his business and forced the defendant to seek other employment.

In 1970, Puski and his wife left Hungary and joined their sons who had previously settled in the United States. Puski eventually purchased the Corvin Book Store, a Hungarian language book store located on Second Avenue in New York City. Puski was also publishing books in the Hungarian language through May Publishing Company.

Plaintiff claims that in the 1970's, Puski approached plaintiff and requested that he be permitted to publish her books. Plaintiff further claims that Puski told her that he was a lawyer and that he would prepare the contracts which would enable Puski to publish plaintiff's books in New York in the Hungarian language.*fn1 Plaintiff states that during this time, she had no separate legal representation.

Eight letter agreements were signed by the parties between 1976 and 1987. These agreements cover all of plaintiff's works with the exceptions of the Cairo and Rome books. Although each letter agreement differs to some insignificant degree, the agreements provide in relevant part as follows:

  You [plaintiff] sold and I [Puski-Corvin and/or
  Puski] purchased the publishing rights in the
  Hungarian language of your books entitled. . . .
  for. . . .
  I will publish the books . . . under the May
  Publishing Co. publishing series.
  In the event of my death, all my rights and
  obligations hereunder are my wife's and in the
  event of her death, are my estate's, but we may
  assign these rights and obligations to another
  person or entity.
  With the exception of the right to publish in the
  Hungarian language you retain all rights as
  author, including rights of translation,
  dramatization and screenplays.
  In the event the above or any further edition is
  sold out and not republished by me within two
  years, the Hungarian language publishing right
  ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.