A state appeals court yesterday upheld a $22.5 million award to a Massachusetts woman who sued the publisher of her memoir about surviving the Holocaust with the help of a pack of wolves that gave her food and protection.
The author, Misha Defonseca, lost her home even after the book about her harrowing childhood in Europe during World War II became a best-seller overseas.
Defonseca and a coauthor sued the publisher, Mount Ivy Press, and its founder, Jane Daniel, for breach of contract in 1998. They accused Daniel of keeping royalties that belonged to them and hiding the money in offshore accounts. A judge later ordered Mt. Ivy and Daniel to pay a total of $32.4 million to Defonseca and her ghostwriter, Vera Lee of Newton, who was Daniel's friend and neighbor before the court battle.
Daniel challenged the verdict, arguing that federal copyright law should have preempted the civil suit from proceeding in a state court. But the state appeals court rejected that argument yesterday. The three-judge panel also ruled that the evidence of Daniel's deceptive business practices was ''legion."
Daniel's attorney, David Daly, said he did not know whether his client would appeal.
In ''Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years," Defonseca said Nazis seized her parents when she was 7 years old. Defonseca said she found herself trapped in the Warsaw ghetto, killed a soldier in self-defense, and, incredibly, was taken in by a pack of wolves, who '' 'adopted' and protected her, providing food, companionship, and affection," the court related in its ruling.