West Virginia Record

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Williams seeks to have historian's book pulled after it was published

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By Kyla Asbury | Mar 23, 2020


HUNTINGTON — Hershel "Woody" Williams, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, is seeking a temporary restraining order regarding the publication of Bryan Rigg's latest book, which tells Williams' story.

Rigg's book is now available on Amazon by self-publication and Williams wants the court to enjoin Rigg from continuing to sell the book.

In his memorandum of law in support of the motion for the temporary restraining order, which was filed March 21, Williams argues that the book, if it continues to be sold, will cause him irreparable harm.

"Rigg’s egregious conduct and erroneous allegations will certainly result in irreparable injury to Mr. Williams, as he will forever lose the opportunity to accurately portray his life story and personal experiences and will suffer injury to his reputation and goodwill," Williams' attorneys wrote. "The hardship to Mr. Williams will be significant, depending on the reach of exposure that Defendant gains in surreptitiously self-publishing the defamatory and false book."

In his response to the temporary restraining order, Rigg argues that Williams fails to identify the defamatory or reputationally damaging statements he is complaining of or how he would be harmed by those statements. He argues that Williams' motion for a temporary restraining order fails to meet the requirements for a temporary restraining order.

"Defendant, through undersigned counsel, objects to an emergency hearing, and objects to Plaintiff’s use of the current international emergency as an excuse to ram a TRO through without providing defendant with appropriate due process of law," Rigg's attorneys wrote. "Indeed, other Courts who received motions for temporary restraining orders this week across the country have identified that holding hearings, requiring parties who are quarantined at home to try to work, and take up court resources with emergency motions should be denied."

Williams, 96, filed the lawsuit May 31 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against Bryan Mark Rigg and his then-publishing companies.

Williams 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.

By 2018, there was a deterioration of Williams' and Rigg’s relationship, resulting in a “significant breakdown in communication” between the two. and Williams alleged that Rigg failed and refused to provide subsequent drafts of the book.

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.

In his response to the complaint, Rigg claimed that he interviewed more than 50 subjects for the book and discovered some discrepancies and he continued his research. He claims Williams wanted a share of the proceeds, but Rigg explained to him that it would be extremely unorthodox for a historian to share book proceeds with the subject of the book because it could lead to accusations that the book was not historically accurate.

Rigg argues he attempted to work out an agreement with Williams' family whereby royalties for the book could be shared with Williams' foundation, but an agreement could not be met and Williams' family then began threatening legal action.

Rigg is represented by Thomas M. Hancock and Alexander C. Frampton of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Huntington; and Geoffrey Scott Harper of Winston & Strawn in Dallas, Texas.

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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U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia