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Manatt settles Diana case

January 21, 2011|E. Scott Reckard

Ending a 13-year dispute touched off by Princess Diana knickknacks, Los Angeles law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips will pay $25 million to settle a malicious prosecution lawsuit brought by Los Angeles businessman Stewart Resnick and his wife, Lynda.

Another defendant in the suit, a memorial fund for the princess, who was killed in a1997 car wreck, settled its liability in 2004.

The Princess Di memorabilia -- a commemorative plate, a purse and a porcelain bride doll -- were produced by Philadelphia's Franklin Mint, then owned by the Resnicks' company Roll International Corp., now called Roll Global. Roll sold Franklin Mint in 2006.

The legal battle began in 1998, when the memorial fund, set up to hold millions of dollars that flowed in after Diana's death in Paris, filed a trademark suit in federal court to stop Franklin from selling the items. The action, which accused the Resnicks of "profiting from the death of Diana," was later dismissed.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, January 26, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 2 inches; 69 words Type of Material: Correction
Princess Diana lawsuit: In some copies of the Jan. 21 Business section, an article about a dispute over Princess Diana knickknacks said Los Angeles law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips would provide $25 million to charities to settle a case brought by L.A. businessman Stewart Resnick and his wife, Lynda. In fact, the money is to be paid to the Resnicks, who said they would donate it to charity.

Striking back in 2002, the Resnicks and Franklin Mint filed a California state court suit alleging that the memorial fund, represented by Manatt, had acted maliciously by initiating the trademark action.

The litigation bumped around until last May, when a state appeals court held that Manatt had no probable cause to file the claims of trademark dilution and false advertising against the Resnicks and their firms.

In a statement Thursday, Stewart Resnick called Manatt's claims "a baseless attempt at intimidation."

Manatt's chief executive, William T. Quicksilver, said in a statement: "While we continue to believe in our legal position, it was in the firm's best interest to settle this matter and put it behind us.... We are pleased that we were able to resolve this case with the support of our insurers."

scott.reckard@latimes.com

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