...............COURT DOCUMENT FOLLOWS................
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF SHAWNEE COUNTY, KANSAS
Case No. 94CV766
STAUFFER COMMUNICATIONS, INC.,
PETITION FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF
(Pursuant to K.S.A. Chapter 60-1701 et. seq.)
COMES NOW the Plaintiff Jon Bell and states:
1.Plaintiff is a resident of Kansas.
2.Defendant Stauffer Communications, Inc. is a corporation organized under the laws of Kansas and may be served by serving its resident agent The Corporation Company, Inc., 515 S. Kansas Ave., Topeka, Kansas 66603.
3.Plaintiff was an intern and employed by Defendant to work for its newspaper Topeka Capital Journal, in Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas.
4. As part of his work he was assigned by the managing editor to prepare stories and/or manuscripts concerning one Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, Inc.
5. That Plaintiff's employment was originally undertaken for compensation of $1300 per month (37 1/2 hours per week at $8.00/hour). As the scope of the Phelps project expanded to book length, Plaintiff indicated his willingness to do a book for the compensation he was being paid. It was represented to him by the managing editor, Mr. Sullivan, that the publication of the book would have such value to Plaintiff's reputation as an author that the publication plus the salary was just compensation.
In reliance upon the representation that the book would be published by Defendant, he continued with the project to the point of final manuscript and dedicated overtime hours (for which he was not separately compensated) having a reasonable value in excess of $10,000.
6. Plaintiff has been advised by Mr. Hively, the publisher of the Topeka Capital Journal that Defendant does not intend to publish the book or any portion of it.
7. Plaintiff has been separately advised by the defendant's attorney that Defendant does not grant Plaintiff permission to publish the book (Ex. B attached).
8. Plaintiff claims that he has intellectual property rights in the manuscript and desires to publish it and that in the absence of compensation for his overtime or because of his reliance on Mr. Sullivan's representation if Defendant chooses to waste the work that he has the right to publish the book.
9. In that Defendant has asserted superior rights to the manuscript, but, has likewise has declared an intent not to publish and the fact that the material may become dated, or alternatively, lose its timelessness (the subject of the manuscript is currently running for the Democratic nomination for Governor of the State of Kansas), it is important to resolve the rights of the parties in and to the manuscript as it relates to the contract of employment which previously existed between Plaintiff and Defendant, and terminate the controversy over rights to the manuscript which gives rise to these proceedings.
10. Plaintiff feels uncertain and insecure of his legal position in the absence of a judicial declaration of his rights, and for that reason, brings this action.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays that the Court construe the terms of his employment and his rights to publish the manuscript marked as Ex. A and attached hereto, and permit the Plaintiff the right without restriction, and subject to any fair accounting to Defendant, to publish the manuscript.
(Signature of Jon Bell)
Jon Bell, pro s 82
(Home address intentionally omitted)
Lawrence, KS 66044
(Document contains the seal of the District Court of Shawnee County, Kansas and the signature of Leslie Miller, Deputy Clerk of the District Court of Shawnee County, Kansas and dated 6-29-94.)
(Letterhead of the law firm of Goodell, Stratton, Edmonds & Palmer)
515 South Kansas Avenue
Topeka, Kansas 66603-3999
June 2, 1994
Mr. Jon Bell
(Home Address Intentionally Omitted)
Shawnee, Kansas 66216
In re:Topeka Capital-Journal
I understand that you are in some way marketing or trying to develop an interest in the Capital-Journal's investigatory work on Fred Phelps.
Be advised that you are not authorized to engage in this activity. This work is the property of The Topeka Capital-Journal, and does not belong to you. My client will make all decisions regarding the piece. You are not authorized to speak on behalf of The Capital-Journal regarding this work, or even to reveal its existence for that matter. If you are taking any steps to develop a market or other interest in this work, you are required to cease immediately.
Meanwhile, please advise Pete Goering at The Capital-Journal of any steps you have taken in this regard.
Very truly yours,
(Signature of Michael W. Merriam)
Michael W. Merriam
cc: Mr. Pete Goering
(Note: This document contains the time stamp of the Clerk of the District Court, Shawnee County, Kansas showing the document was filed with the Clerk at 1:05 p.m. of June 29, 1994.)