On Wednesday (November 29), Cline’s ex-lover Chaz Reetz-Laiolo cites Penguin Random House and his ex-girlfriend in a lawsuit alleging the latter gained unauthorized access to his private e-mail and creative drafts, which he believes were reproduced in passages of the author’s novel The Girls.
In retort, Cline “vehemently denies” the “ludicrous” accusations set upon her, stating her “abusive” ex-boyfriend’s latest act of jealousy is one of malice intent and part of a years-long attempt to ruin her mental well-being and career as a writer. Cline also followed with a countersuit against Reetz-Laiolo, referencing his accusation points only to “a few stray phrases and passages” that appear in her novel which may have been used in shared conversations or during readings of each other’s works during their time as a couple dating back to 2009.
Reetz-Laiolo, a writer who has also been published in outlets such as Paris Review, Salon and Harper’s, maintains the belief that Cline was able to lift material from his personal e-mails without his knowledge because she supposedly sold him a computer with spyware installed on to it. He reserves she copied scenes from some of his older e-mails and screenplay drafts and used them in The Girls, Cline’s debt novel concerning a teenage girl who becomes entangled in the infamous Charles Manson family.
In his suit, Reetz-Laiolo states Cline used spyware to “systematically surveil his private email obsessively over a period of years.” And while these are extreme accusations, Reetz-Laiolo’s claims may have some grounds. Based on her own acknowledgment, Cline consents to using spyware in the past, but only as an outlet to look into her ex-boyfriend’s suspected infidelities during their relationship. Nonetheless, Cline assures she had not been permitted any access to the software since the time she sold it.
Cline also remarked Reetz-Laiolo as an “abusive ex-boyfriend” who is using this latest publicity stunt to “extract millions of dollars by intimidation and threat, all under the auspices of frivolous claims of copyright infringement.”
As we know, Cline is asking to seek damages of at least $75,000 in a future court hearing. Reetz-Laiolo, too, is also seeking “unspecified damages” in addition to a publication embargo for further printing of The Girls by Penguin Random House.