By Erin Geiger Smith
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The former agent of Harper Lee, the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," has reached a settlement deal with Lee in her lawsuit claiming that she was tricked into giving away the copyright to her classic 1960 novel, an attorney for the former agent said on Friday.
The defense lawyer, Vincent Carissimi, said he expects the entire lawsuit to be dismissed next week, after Lee voluntarily dismissed the two other defendants in the suit.
Papers filed on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan show that Leigh Ann Winick, the wife of Lee's former agent, Samuel Pinkus, and attorney Gerald Posner are no longer defendants in the suit.
Pinkus, the son-in-law of Lee's deceased agent Eugene Winick, remains a defendant in the lawsuit.
Carissimi declined to provide the terms of the agreement between Pinkus and Lee.
"To Kill a Mockingbird," which has sold more than 30 million copies, tells the story of two children of an attorney growing up in a small Southern town. Their father, who is white, is selected to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman, and the man is convicted despite his innocence.
Lee, now 87, won a Pulitzer for the novel - the only one she ever published.
In the lawsuit filed in May, Lee claimed that Pinkus in 2007 "engaged in a scheme to dupe" her into assigning her copyright in the novel to him without her receiving any payment.
The author was suffering from declining hearing and eyesight, and has no memory of relinquishing her rights, the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, Pinkus inappropriately diverted several of Eugene Winick's clients, including Lee, to a company owned by Pinkus when Winick became ill in 2002.
Leigh Ann Winick, the lawsuit said, is the president of Keystone Literary LLC, a company that also is named in the lawsuit.
Lee claimed Keystone failed to properly account for her royalty payments.
The third defendant, Posner, helped set up a separate company, of which Pinkus is the director, to which Pinkus transferred the purported rights to "To Kill a Mockingbird," the lawsuit said.
(Reporting by Erin Geiger Smith; Editing by Ted Botha, Barbara Goldberg and Leslie Adler)