Well-known World War II vet Woody Williams sues author, publisher over book

By Kyla Asbury | Jun 5, 2019

HUNTINGTON — Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Word War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, is suing an author and unknown publisher to stop a book being published about his life that he believes is inaccurate and could harm his reputation.

Williams, 95, filed the lawsuit May 31 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against Bryan Mark Rigg and the unknown publishing company.

He claims in 2015, he met Rigg while accompanying other veterans on a tour of Guam and Iwo Jima and had several conversations with him over the years about the possibility of collaborating for a book.

In July 2016, Rigg visited Williams in West Virginia and gathered basic details and information from his family about his personal life and traveled to several locations throughout the state with him.

In February 2017, Rigg met with Williams again to discuss terms of their collaboration and the parties agreed that Williams would provide Rigg with personal information about his life and military service; that the information in the book would be factual and pertaining to Williams; that both Williams and Rigg would have input into and authority over the content of the book; that Rigg would conduct necessary research for the book; and that the parties would equally share the proceeds from the book, according to the suit.

Williams claims the book was to be unique and focus on the “untold” story of his life and military service and, based on that agreement, he provided Rigg with information about his life and experiences, including personal and untold stories, anecdotes, recollections and memories.

In early 2018, a draft of the book was completed and additional revisions and edits were made, according to the suit. Williams also provided Rigg with personal items he could borrow while writing the book.

Williams claims it was around that time that a deterioration of his and Rigg’s relationship occurred, resulting in a “significant breakdown in communication” between the two.

By March 2018, Williams claims Rigg failed and refused to provide subsequent drafts of the book.

Williams then requested and demanded that Rigg refrain from any unauthorized use of the draft manuscripts that weren’t approved by Williams and revoked his consent for Rigg to use his name, likeness, image, personal stories or anything else in connection with his book because of the breakdown in communication.

“Defendant has refused to return Mr. Williams’ personal items and … is still in unauthorized possession of those personal items,” the complaint states.

Despite Williams’ requests, Rigg stated he fully intended to publish the book and has refused to provide a copy for Williams to review.

Williams is seeking a restraining order to prevent Rigg from publishing the book, as well as compensation and the return of his personal property. Williams is represented by J.H. Mahaney, J. Tanner Watkins and Brittany S. Given of Dinsmore & Shohl.

Williams is a Medal of Honor recipient after his service during World War II in Iwo Jima. He is one of only three living veterans to receive the honor in World War II.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Case number: 3:19-cv-00423

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