Denise Shull, the founder of consulting firm ReThink Group, is taking the creators of Showtime’s hedge fund series “Billions” back to court after her lawsuit against them was dismissed earlier this month.
Shull announced Monday that she believes the U.S. District Court for the Southern District in New York “got it wrong” when it dismissed her copyright lawsuit against the network and the show’s creators. Her attorney, Rosanne Felicello of CKR Law, said by phone Monday that the appeal will be filed this week in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
In the dismissed lawsuit, Shull was seeking punitive damages after allegedly expecting to be compensated for assisting the creators of “Billions.” At issue in the case are Shull’s similarities to the show's character Wendy Rhoades, who plays an in-house performance coach for a hedge fund. Rhoades employs strategies similar to the ones Shull developed in her book, Market Mind Games: A Radical Psychology of Investing, Trading and Risk, which is a fictional expression of her own experiences, according to the complaint.
“Once their show began airing, I could not escape comments from my clients, followers and audiences mentioning the similarity between Wendy and me,” Shull said in her statement Monday. “If I have been asked if I am a dominatrix once, I’ve been asked that 100 times,” she said, referring to the show’s portrayal of Rhoades’s sex life.
To cope, Shull said that she told her clients “the truth” — that she was allegedly consulted by the show's writers and actress.
According to Shull, Showtime told her to stop saying that in March 2017, which is why she filed her suit against the company at the end of December. The suit claimed that Wendy Rhoades was allegedly based on a character Shull portrays in her book. The suit also claimed that Shull allegedly expected to be compensated for her work with the show’s creators but was not.
Shull alleged that filmmaker Brian Koppelman, screenwriter David Levien, financial journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, Showtime chief executive officer David Nevins, TBTF Productions, Showtime Networks, and CBS Corp. engaged in copyright infringement, injury to Shull’s business reputation, and deceptive trade practices, according to the complaint.
The judge said that Shull and her lawyers failed to prove that any implied contract between Shull and the show’s creators existed, according to a court document filed October 4 with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District in New York.
At a hearing earlier this year, Elizabeth McNamara, an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine who represented the show’s creators and the network, said Shull and Rhoades weren’t that similar.
“Other than her gender and her occupation, the reader knows nothing about her,” McNamara said, according to a transcript of the hearing that was included in a court document filed in May. “They don't know what she looks like, what her personality is like, where she lives, whether she is married, whether she has children, nothing.”
Neither McNamara nor a spokesperson for “Billions” responded to emails seeking comment on the news that Shull plans to file an appeal.
“It’s never easy to be Denise fighting Goliath,” Shull said in her statement. “I am not going to cower because my opponent is much, much bigger than I am.”