Just a day after earning six Emmy nominations, Quinta Brunson’s breakout sitcom Abbott Elementary has been hit with a copyright-infringement lawsuit. Brunson and ABC are both named in a lawsuit from aspiring writer and performer Christine Davis, who claims that Abbott ripped off a TV script she wrote in 2018 titled This School Year. Per the lawsuit, Davis’s script, which is set in New York City, also follows an underfunded public school with a young, idealistic teacher pushing for reform. Further, Davis claims that Abbott copied the “look and feel of the inner-city school, the mockumentary style, unique plot synopsis, set design, and unique characters” from her script.
According to the lawsuit, Davis wrote the script in 2018 and filed for copyright in March 2020. Davis allegedly passed the script to producers Cherisse Parks and Shavon Sullivan Wright at Blue Park Productions in July 2020 (Parks and Wright don’t appear to have any affiliation with ABC or Abbott Elementary). Davis claims that Parks and Wright then took the script to Hulu, who evidently passed (Hulu and ABC are both majority-owned by Disney). A few months later in September 2020, per Davis, filming on Abbott began. Davis’s lawsuit mandates that “Brunson and ABC turn over all profits they made from the show.” Brunson and ABC have yet to comment, but in the meantime, we can all reread Conan O’Brien’s thoughts on copyright lawsuits.