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Maid's lawsuit over 'The Help' thrown out by Mississippi judge

August 17, 2011 | 12:11 pm

The case of Ablene Cooper, a woman who worked as a maid for Kathryn Stockett's brother, was thrown out of a Mississippi courtroom Tuesday. Stockett is the author of the popular bestselling novel "The Help," which is about maids and the women they work for in pre-civil rights-era Mississippi. 

Cooper claimed her likeness had been used by Stockett without permission. One of the main characters in "The Help" is a maid named Aibileen. Cooper claimed that the similarities went further; like the character Aibileen, Cooper lost a son before going to work for Stockett's brother. Cooper sought $75,000 in damages.

In the film adaptation of "The Help," Viola Davis stars as Aibileen. The film opened last week to big box office -- it came in at No. 2 -- and to strong reviews.

Stockett has said that Aibileen was based on a woman employed by her family who helped raise her named Demetrie McLorn. McLorn died when Stockett was a teenager.

After the lawsuit was filed in February, Stockett told USA Today, "I've met Mrs. Cooper only briefly. I used the name 'Aibileen' because it resonated with 'Constantine,' the beloved woman who took care of the book's main character in her youth."

The case was thrown out because it was not filed within the statute of limitations, according to the Hollywood Reporter.


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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Ablene Cooper leaves a Mississippi courtroom Aug 16. Credit: TRogelio V. Solis / Associated Press Photos