A Michael Jackson juror who last month announced a book deal and said he believed the pop star was guilty of child molestation has filed a lawsuit to break his publishing contract.
Ray Hultman and his wife, Darlene Hultman, filed the lawsuit in Superior Court in Santa Maria on Wednesday, claiming they were novices suckered into signing a book pact with publisher Larry Garrison, owner of the Lake Sherwood-based SilverCreek Entertainment.
"Plaintiff/s reliance on Garrison/s representations was justified in light of their aforementioned simplicity, naiveté, overly trusting natures, lack of sophistication and inexperience, and Garrison/s motivational skills and ability to /sell/ and promote himself and/or his business ventures," according to the suit.
Hultman, 62, of Santa Maria wants out of his contract and is seeking unspecified damages for mental and emotional stress. Also named in the suit is Hultman/s agent, Bill Gladstone of Cardiff by the Sea, and Los Angeles author Stacy Brown.
No court date has yet been scheduled for the lawsuit.
Santa Barbara lawyer James Nichols Jr., Hultman/s attorney, wrote in the lawsuit that his client should be released from the contract because California law barred him from capitalizing on his jury service until 90 days after the verdict.
Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville informed jurors about the law on June 13, after the panel acquitted Jackson on child-molestation, conspiracy and alcohol charges. The 90-day period is set to expire Sunday.
Attached to the lawsuit are two hand-written contracts signed by Hultman, his wife and Garrison. In the first contract, signed June 28, the Hultmans granted Garrison rights to Hultman/s story in exchange for half of all proceeds for any book or movie deals.
"Any book and or film will portray him and our family in a positive manner," the contract reads.
The contract also mentions that both parties would pay Brown to help write the book, to be called "The Deliberator."
Hultman claims he was shocked when media reports surfaced Aug. 19 that his book proposal contained plagiarized material from a Vanity Fair magazine article. In the lawsuit, Hultman blames Brown for allegedly plagiarizing the documents, and alleges that his reputation and deal was damaged by the alleged act.
"(Hultman) was caused to expend substantial time in writing portions of a book proposal which turned out to be valueless give the aforementioned plagiary; suffered extreme mental and emotional distress and damage to his reputation after being publicly accused of plagiarism and therefore lack of integrity, and suffered a substantial diminution, if not a complete loss of the value of his literary and film rights arising out of his service as a juror in the Jackson trial."
Brown said on Thursday that he was surprised by the lawsuit, which he considered "laughable." He denies the plagiarism allegations, and said he never spoke with Hultman or agreed to co-author his book.
"I think this is another attempt for Ray to keep himself in the media," Brown said. "No one is interested in his book. He was badly misguided. He/d be better off riding into the sunset and getting on with his life."
Hultman/s prospects of a solo book appeared to have waned by Aug. 8, when he signed another contract with Garrison. That document refers to a collaboration with 81-year-old Ellie Cook, another Santa Maria juror who acquitted Jackson, then professed her belief that the singer was guilty.
"If necessary, it will be acceptable for you to negotiate the publication of one book combining the experiences of Ellie Cook and Ray Hultman as jurors on the Michael Jackson trial," the contract reads.
Hultman/s stake was diminished in the new contract. He and his wife were now to receive 25 percent, Ellie Cook and her granddaughter Tracy Montgomery were to receive 25 percent and Garrison was to receive 50 percent.
Garrison declined to comment for this story, saying he had not had an opportunity to review the lawsuit. Gladstone was traveling out of the country and did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Hultman declined to comment for this story, as did his attorney.
Quintin Cushner can be reached at 739-2217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 9, 2005