Steinbeck’s Breach of Contract Argument Continues

January 4, 2017



When Thomas Steinbeck, the eldest son of Nobel Prize-winning fiction author John Steinbeck, died at the age of 72 in August, he left behind a bitter family dispute that occupied more than three decades of his life. He never got to witness a decision last month determining that he and his wife, Gail Knight Steinbeck, had breached a 1983 contract by insisting that DreamWorks, Universal, Disney and others needed the couple’s approval to produce new film adaptations of Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, The Pearl and more. The Nov. 1 ruling, which hasn’t been reported until now, won’t impact whatever Steven Spielberg is planning to do with Grapes of Wrath, but it could be the beginning of a lifting cloud that has been hampering development of film adaptations for years.

To read the full THR article, please read here.

“Those breaches caused damages,” added Judge Hatter in the order (read here in full). “The declaration of expert Kathryn Arnold sufficiently establishes a prima facie case that [Thom and Gail’s] communications … to third parties ‘have harmed and continue to harm the value of the entire catalogue of Steinbeck Works.'”

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