For four years in the 1960s, two brothers were on the run, fleeing authorities after a prison break at a juvenile facility. Robert Hughes, wrongfully incarcerated at 16, turned to older brother Donald, who helped him escape.
Sound familiar? Like Fox’s “Prison Break”? The Hughes brothers think so.
In a federal lawsuit, they say their agent sent Fox a manuscript in 2001 chronicling their experiences and the network wasn’t interested in it. So they were surprised when, last fall, Fox began airing “Prison Break.”
“It’s a classic case of the rich trampling on the poor,” Donald Hughes, 63, told The Associated Press.
Their copyright infringement case, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, seeks unspecified damages and other costs from Fox and the show’s executive producer and creator, Paul Scheuring.
The men, still close and living in neighboring apartments in central Missouri, live on disability and Social Security.
Robert Hughes, 59, told the AP: “If we sold the manuscript at this point to a movie studio or network, they’d think we were copying ‘Prison Break.”’
Fox Broadcasting Co. spokesman Scott Grogin said the company had not seen the lawsuit and has no comment. Chris Alexander, spokesman for 20th Century Fox TV and Scheuring, said it’s their policy not to comment on pending litigation.
In May 1964, 16-year-old Robert Hughes was wrongfully held in juvenile detention after his mentally ill mother, who suffered from paranoid delusions, told authorities he had threatened her with an ice pick during a family argument. She later recanted, but he was ordered to serve time until he was 21.
Donald Hughes, then 20, planned an escape and sprang his younger brother two months later. For the next four years, the brothers were fugitives, working jobs when they could and dodging authorities throughout the nation.
The two eventually were exonerated in 1968 after The Kansas City Star published a story detailing their ordeal.
“Prison Break,” in its second season, is set in contemporary time. But the Hughes brothers say they’ve noted more than 30 places, names or events that are strikingly similar to those of their manuscript.