Set aside $10m for Fifty Shades... settlement, orders judge

TEXAS: An Australian woman who helped publish Fifty Shades of Grey was  ordered by a Fort Worth judge on August 26 to set aside $10 million for  a Texas woman, a jury said was defrauded out of her share of the  royalty rights for the steamy best-selling novel.

Jennifer Pedroza of  Arlington could be awarded about $10.7 million once attorneys for her  and former business partner Amanda Hayward of Australia settle on the  amount she is owed, including attorney fees, court officials said. Judge  Susan McCoy said she would rule on a firm amount once an agreement  between the two sides was reached.

Pedroza was part of The Writers Coffee Shop, a small independent publisher of ebooks that originally published the Fifty Shades  trilogy as an e-book and print-on-demand book, according to court  papers. She did not appear in court on August 26 but her attorney, Mike  Farris, said, “We have been pleased with everything since the jury  verdict.”

The rights to the books written by British author EL James  were sold to Random House and the deal led to the sale of more than 100  million copies worldwide. A film based on the first book, Fifty Shades of Grey,  took in more $570 million in the United States and abroad, according to  tracking site Box Office Mojo. A Fort Worth jury decided in February  that Pedroza was defrauded out of her share of royalties by Hayward, who  tricked Pedroza into signing an agreement that cut her out of her share  of the royalties after Hayward signed the deal with Random House.

The  jury determined that Pedroza was one of the four original owners of The  Writers Coffee Shop and Hayward fraudulently presented the  restructuring arrangement so she could keep the Random House money for  herself. After attorneys for Hayward said she did not have $10 million  available, McCoy said she would allow property to be applied toward the  amount.

David Keltner, an attorney for Hayward, said the jury  decision and judgement might be appealed. Pedroza filed the lawsuit in  Tarrant County in May 2014, seeking an amount over $1 million, according  to court papers.