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Regnery Wins Arbitration Ruling

By Rachel Deahl -- Publishers Weekly, 3/13/2008 12:19:00 PM

Ending its second recent legal scuffle with an author, Regnery has had another successful round. The publisher received a favorable ruling in a March 10 arbitration decision that calls for author Richard Miniter to repay nearly $150,000. Regnery was awarded the ruling after claiming Miniter, who wrote the 2005 book Disinformation for the house, did not live up to his two book contract and, instead, took a second work to Simon & Schuster.

This is not the only legal matter Miniter and Regnery are in, though. Miniter also filed a suit (with four other Regnery authors) for what he claims are withheld profits on transactions through non-retail channels like book clubs and charity giveaways. Regnery won the first round in that case, which was dismissed with prejudice in January. Despite that ruling, and Monday's decision, Miniter is continuing to fight. He said the case with the other authors is headed to arbitration, and that he plans to overturn this latest ruling. 

Regnery president and publisher Marji Ross said the company was “pleased” with the decision and that “we honor our commitments to each of our authors.” Ross continued, “We were reluctant to pursue Rich on this, but we felt we just couldn’t let him walk out on us and sign with another publisher without at least returning our money.”

Miniter has a different story. He said Regnery refused to offer him an advance for his second book, which was about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. When the presumed Taliban leader was killed in 2006 the book fell apart and, according to Miniter, Regnery would not allow him draft a new project. Miniter also contended that the book he’s now working on with Simon & Schuster is a moot point, since it’s on a wholly different subject matter.

Ross told PW that Miniter’s version of the facts is grossly skewed. “We had a two-book deal,” she said. “He owed us a second book and he kept the money [from the advance]. He can say what he wants, but that’s what happened.” Ross added that Miniter’s claim to having not received an advance on the second book is wrong, since the initial sum paid to him was for both works.

Although overturning an arbitration ruling is notoriously difficult, Miniter said it’s still possible. “There are a number of very strong grounds for overturning this,” he said. Miniter also feels there is more at stake than his advance. “Regnery won this award by contending they’re entitled to some of the advance on that first book they published because they didn’t make as much money as they expected on it. If that becomes a precedent it could be dangerous for authors worldwide because advances would, in effect, become loans.”

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