“The Help,” or, Updating the Real Story Behind “The Help”

Earlier this month I posted about the lawsuit filed by Ablene Cooper, a Black Jackson, Mississippi maid who claims (in a lawsuit) that “The Help” author Kathryn Stockett has without permission and or compensation, used her life {Ablene Cooper} story in the creation of the main character in her book.

“The Help” as you know, is about the relationship between White families in Mississippi and the Black maids who worked for them in the 1960s.  The book offers an almost lighthearted treatment of Black-White relations during what some critics consider to be the most tumultuous time in the American Civil Rights struggle.

Some have even likened “The Help” and Kathryn Stockett to a White, female southern writer of the 1930s,—— Margaret Mitchell and her seminal pro-Confederate classic, “Gone With The Wind.”

Quickly:  Ablene Cooper was/is the Jackson, Mississippi maid to Kathryn Stockett’s brother.  Ablene Cooper and Kathryn Stockett have met.  Kathryn Stockett when writing her bestselling book was aware (to some extent) of Ablene Cooper’s “story.”

Ablene Cooper claims that Kathryn Stockett has improperly (i.e. without permission and or compensation) incorporated her “story” into her bestselling book and hugely popular movie.  As of today, box office receipts for “The Help”——$40,000,000 and counting.

Ablene Cooper, as a result of the above allegations filed in February, a $75,000 lawsuit against Kathryn Stockett.



1.  On Tuesday, August 16th, Hinds County (Mississippi) Circuit Judge Tommie Green dismissed the lawsuit stating that the 1 year statute of limitations elapsed.  Translation:  The merits of the case was not considered (i.e. because of the running of the 1 year statute, the court was precluded from deciding on the veracity of Ablene Cooper’s allegations).

2.  Immediately after hearing the judge’s decision to dismiss her suit, Ablene Cooper left the courthouse in tears.  She stated through tears that “…..She’s a liar.  She did it.  She knows she did it.”  Stockett was not in court during the proceedings.

3.  On Thursday, August 19th, Edward Sander’s, Ablene Cooper’s attorney, asked the judge to reconsider the lawsuit.  The motion for reconsideration stated in part that the 1 year clock did not start clicking until the summer of 2010 when Ablene Cooper read “The Help” for the first time.

4. Sanders argued that his client did not read the book sooner because in a handwritten note Stockett assured Cooper that despite the similarity in names (Aibileen Clark—the name of the maid in “The Help”), the character wasn’t based on Cooper.

5.  Cooper stated that she trusted Stockett and  did not read the book sooner based on Stockett’s assertions in the handwritten note.  Translation:  “Had I not relied on Kathryn Stockett’s misrepresentation(s) in her handwritten note, I would have read the book sooner and would have as a result of the blatant similarities, filed my lawsuit well within the 1 year statute of limitations.”

6.  The judge has the motion in hand.   And of course, The Recovering Attorney will keep you posted!

COPYRIGHT 2011.  The Recovering Attorney Un-Blog(tm).  All Rights Reserved.  And I will sue.  Ha!


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