What Goes ‘Around,’ Comes ‘Around’

By Jordana Horn

Published March 03, 2006, issue of March 03, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Best-selling mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark may come to regret the title she gave to one of her latest novels.

In a recently filed lawsuit, Israeli writer Dalia Gal is claiming that Higgins Clark lifted key plot elements from a screenplay that Gal had written, using them in her 29th novel, “The Second Time Around.”

After reading Higgins Clark’s 2003 book, Gal contacted an attorney; she felt that there was more than a passing resemblance between her screenplay, “Immortalin,” and Higgins Clark’s novel.

According to Gal’s complaint, “the entire concept of ‘The Second Time Around’… was taken from [‘Immortalin’].” In both, the complaint argues, the plot centers on a female journalist’s investigation of two rival pharmaceutical companies and their quest to produce a miracle drug. In “Immortalin,” the drug at issue fights degenerative brain diseases; “The Second Time Around” focuses on a cancer vaccine.

The protagonists of both works are divorced female journalists living in New York City. Both reside in apartment buildings with broken elevators.

Gal contends that she wrote her screenplay in 1999. The screenplay was copyrighted and registered with the Writers Guild of America in July 2002; the script was sent out to film industry contacts between 1999 and 2002. During that time, Gal presented the screenplay to three separate writer’s conferences. Higgins Clark published “The Second Time Around” in 2003.

Gal seeks to prevent Higgins Clark from selling any more copies of the book, and wants all copies of it recalled from booksellers and destroyed. According to Nielsen BookScan, the hardcover edition of the novel has sold 285,000 copies.

Higgins Clark told the New York Daily News that “before this lawsuit was filed, I had never heard of Ms. Gal and certainly never saw her screenplay.” Her lawyers filed an answer to the complaint, denying all Gal’s allegations and stating that Gal does not even hold a valid copyright to “Immortalin.” “Even if there was any similarity between ‘Immortalin’ and ‘The Second Time Around,’” Higgins Clark’s answer to Gal’s complaint states, “such similarity consists solely of material that is not original to [Gal] and is therefore not protectible expression.” The similarities, she argues, are the product of “unprotected stock elements.”

Nonetheless, Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. of the Southern District of New York federal court has refused Higgins Clark’s lawyers’ request to dismiss the case. In the absence of a settlement — and it doesn’t look like either side has any plans to settle — the case will head to trial. And Gal is, apparently, ready for a fight.

“You shouldn’t mess with me or any Israeli,” she told the Daily News, from Tel Aviv. “We have to be tough, because life is tough here.”

Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.