JUDGE GRANTS MOTION TO EXCLUDE TWO POTENTIAL EXPERT WITNESSES APPEAR AT CONAN O’BRIEN TRIAL
Steven T. Lowe
Following up on our February 12, 2019 article entitled “Conan O’Brien Trial Set Over Stolen Jokes”: the upcoming trial between Conan O’Brien (“O’Brien”) and a freelance comedy writer Robert Alexander Kaseberg (“Kaseberg”), who allege that O’Brien stole his jokes, will feature appearances from comics Patton Oswalt and Andy Richter, but U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino has ruled that Kaseberg’s two experts, David Barsky (“Barsky”) and Elayne Boosler (“Boosler”), will not be permitted to testify in the case.
Kaseberg had proposed that Barsky, a mathematics professor at California State University San Marcos, could weigh in on the patterns of the jokes at issue, and comedian Boosler could testify on the similarity between the jokes. Judge Sammartino ruled on April 16, 20019 that testimony from the pair is “neither necessary nor helpful.” “Not only can such testimony easily be obtained from other parties – including plaintiff and Mr. O’Brien – but Ms. Boosler ultimately is not being offered to testify on the types of jokes at issue; rather, Ms. Boosler is being offered for her expertise concerning their substantial similarity…And although Boosler is ‘undoubtedly an expert comedienne, her conclusions lack analytical dissection.’”
Kaseberg, whose material has appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post, filed his copyright infringement suit in July 2015. He alleged O’Brien and the other defendants stole five of his jokes, which he filed copyright applications for in 2015 and 2016. Three of those jokes are now of issue after a Motion For Summary Judgment was granted in May of 2017 and April of 2018 with respect to the other two.
The jokes that remain include a jab at Caitlyn Jenner, a joke about the Washington Monument and a jab at New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the Seattle Seahawks.
Kaseberg is represented by Jayson M. Lorenzo and Ryan J. Altomare of J. Lorenzo Law.
The defendants are represented by Patricia L. Glaser, Thomas P. Burke Jr. and Justin P. Thiele of Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro LLP.
The case is Kaseberg v. Conaco LLC et al., case number 3:15-cv-01637, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
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