Court Dismisses Cochran’s Countersuit Against Beagle

Peter Beagle and Connor Cochran in 2013.

Peter S. Beagle won a round in his lawsuit against his former business manager, Connor Cochran, on November 7 when the Superior Court of Alameda County dismissed Cochran’s countersuit against Beagle. It was dismissed with prejudice, which means Cochran can’t try it again. Meanwhile, Beagle’s suit against Cochran is proceeding, with trial scheduled to begin on January 5, 2018.

Beagle, one of the top fantasists of his generation, and Connor Freff Cochran, the lifelong sf/f fan who became Beagle’s manager shortly after they met in 2001, spent 14 years rallying fans around the author’s campaign to get what he was due from sales of The Last Unicorn movie, and get back other rights controlled by exploitative corporations. Although they succeeded on both counts, the story of their teamwork came to an ugly end in 2015 when Beagle and Cochran sued each other in California courts.

Beagle’s lawsuit against Cochran [PDF], filed in November 2015 with the Superior Court of California in Alameda County, alleges Cochran committed fraud, elder abuse, and defamation.

Beagle, now 78, asked for $52 million in damages (or more as determined by the court), disgorgement of illegal gains and restitution, dissolution of two corporations he co-owns with Cochran, and other injunctive relief.

Cochran’s answer and cross-complaint, filed in January 2016, asked the court to dismiss Beagle’s suit as “frivolous, issued without capacity or under undue influence,” and to award damages in an amount to be determined.

Beagle hasn’t been free to go on his way and resell his earlier published works because he had turned over his intellectual property and all of his rights to Avicenna Development Corporation, which he and Cochran formed in 2008 to manage and protect Beagle’s intellectual property rights, each man owning 50%.

The intellectual property held by Avicenna not only includes Beagle’s own works, but also rights in works he inherited from Edgar and Mary Pangborn, from his mother, and the rights in Cochran’s own previously created works.

The judge’s November 7 decision dismissed Cochran’s cross-complaint, and mirror complaints by the corporations, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press, Inc., with prejudice, because of prolonged failure to comply with court orders to produce documents and answer interrogatories. The court also renewed its order for Cochran and the defendant corporations to pay $24,915 in sanctions that have remained unpaid since September 2016, and levied an additional $3,060 sanction against Cochran.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge for the story.]

14 thoughts on “Court Dismisses Cochran’s Countersuit Against Beagle

  1. It indeed is.

    I’m admin for and we’re posting any developments in this situation. Hopefully the Rat Bastard (he was deeply offended by this phrase and emailed me to take it down lest he sue me for defamation — I just ignored him on advice of legal counsel) has assets that some Court cabin eventually seize to make at least partial reparations for what he conned Peter out of.

    I’ve actually met both over dinner at a Pakistani easterly here. Peter was charming, told great stories, and Connor was doing the hard sell of himself. Peter has a great support circle and now Is being quite productive.

  2. That is good news.

    Also, I hadn’t realized that Beagle had inherited the Pangborn copyrights, I will now hope that there might be reprints or new editions *ebooks?) once this is sorted out.

  3. @cat Eldridge: “I just ignored him on advice of legal counsel”–that’s a sentence I hope to one day use myself. And thank you for standing up for someone who needed it!

  4. Vicki Rosenzweig notes Also, I hadn’t realized that Beagle had inherited the Pangborn copyrights, I will now hope that there might be reprints or new editions *ebooks?) once this is sorted out.

    You’ll have to explain that please. I know he credits Pangborn with giving a him start, but what copyrights are these?

  5. Cat Eldridge: It’s in the court papers. The Wikipedia article about Edgar Pangborn also has part of the story:

    During the last years of Mary’s own life, Peter S. Beagle served as one of her trustees, and when Mary died in February 2003 she bequeathed the entire Pangborn estate to him, including all of Edgar’s literary work. Over 50 boxes of manuscripts and papers were moved out to California for sorting, filing, digitizing, and cross-correlating with the papers in the permanent Edgar Pangborn collection held at Boston University.
    The final planned result is a series of definitive hardcover editions aiming to bring all of Pangborn’s works back into print in the form he intended; and, in addition, release some long-rumored manuscripts for the first time.

  6. No, Beagle did NOT contribute them to Avencia I just discovered from legal counsel; instead Connor claimed these copyrights and the ones of Park Godwin as well but there’s no paper trail that has been findable in either case.

    If anyone here knows who was the Estate for either person, email me off list via OGH who has my preferred address. The Rat Bastard’s got a lot to answer for when this mess goes to trial soon.

  7. A Mirror for Observers is a great book and deserves to be more widely read. I hope for a speedy resolution in PSB’s favor. Rat Bastard is very appropriate as a nickname.

  8. @Chris LaHatte–
    Refusing to pay Peter Beagle, neither producing and shipping the books he has sold to buyers, and claiming copyright on Peter Beagle’s work, can be a real friendship killer.

  9. Chris LaHatte: When old friends fall out, they should mediate the issues rather than litigate.

    Read the pertinent documents. This isn’t a case of “old friends falling out”.

    It’s very strange to see a Barrister commenting on a legal issue without first ascertaining the relevant facts.

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