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Judge Tosses Out Million Dollar Judgment Against Todd McFarlane

On October 31, 2000, Missouri Circuit Court Judge Robert H. Dierker threw out the US$24.5 million judgment against Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, originally awarded to former hockey player Tony Twist in July. Twist had sued McFarlane for unauthorized use of his name in the comic book series SPAWN. Judge Dierker, who presided over the original case, threw out the judgment stating that the case lacked "credible evidence that McFarlane at any time intended to injure Twist's marketability, to capitalize on the market recognition of the name Tony Twist, or in fact derived any benefit whatsoever." He added that when McFarlane first used the name Tony Twist, the plaintiff had no market recognition and "was earning precisely zero income from endorsements." Throughout the 22-page judgment, Judge Dierker stated that his court had rarely seen less credible evidence, and called the testimony of two of the plaintiff's witnesses "equally unworthy of belief" and "wholly unbelievable." He also noted that "SPAWN is a work of fiction," and "there is no resemblance between the plaintiff and the comic book character whatsoever." Judge Dierker continued to say that "the court cannot find a single case, certainly no Missouri case, in which injunctive relief has been granted to prevent the use of a name by a writer or publisher in a work of fiction." McFarlane commented, "As I read this judgment, it was plain to me that the judge found the case lacked the credible evidence expected in a lawsuit of this magnitude. Mr. Twist with his contingency lawyer spent nothing on this case, while I'm out a half-million dollars and two years of my life defending my name because I knew I was right. Sometimes doing the right thing is the most difficult. I find it amusing that the corporate entities named as defendants in this case took the path of least resistance before the fight was finished." McFarlane plans to pursue repayment of some of the court costs from Twist.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
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