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Written April 5, 2019

Sovereign immunity bars a federal copyright infringement claim against a public hospital, the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri ruled on March 7, 2019. Flack v. Citizens Mem’l Hosp., W.D. Mo., No. 6:18-cv-3236, 3/7/19.

Wesley Flack holds registered copyrights in personal safety material he created, wrote, and illustrated. He alleged that Citizens Memorial Hospital used his copyrighted materials in products it both manufactured and marketed without Mr. Flack’s permission. The Court dismissed the suit, however, because the hospital is a public entity organized under Missouri law and it had not waived its sovereign immunity.

Flack argued that the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act (CRCA) of 1990 waived the state’s sovereign immunity; but the Court disagreed, citing several cases which held that Congress lacked the authority to void state sovereign immunity.
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