Kiefer Sutherland's new Touch TV series touched by a lawsuit

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Dec 16, 2012, 12:07 PM EST

Just as it's about to start its first regular run of episodes, Kiefer Sutherland's new series Touch has gotten a wrench thrown in the works by a very angry writer.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, a writer named Everette Hallford has filed a lawsuit in New York federal court this week, claiming that the premise of Touch was lifted from a novel and screenplay that he wrote. The novel, called Visionary, was published in 2008. Its description reads:

Slacker reporter Jim Jacobson is sent to cover the visit of the mystic-prophet figure, Nigel Fox. Jacobson's skepticism is exceeded only by his self doubt and remorse about his own life and roots. Before the day is over he will be hurled into an adventure that spans sixty years of history, the events of a world war, a beautiful and ill-fated love affair set in the backdrop of eastern Orthodox spirituality.

So what has this to do with Touch, in which Sutherland plays a man whose 11-year-old autistic son can apparently predict future events through the use of numbers?

Well, Hallford has alleged that in 2009, he was spending time at a New York hospital caring for his newborn granddaughter (who later died of cancer, sadly) and met a representative of the hospital who said he was friends with Touch and Heroes creator Tim Kring. Hallford said he was supposed to meet Kring through this person, but that never happened, so instead he passed along his book and a screenplay version of it called Prodigy.

Hallford has now asserted that there is a "reasonable" possibility that Kring saw both, citing similarities between his story and Touch. Both allegedly feature an 11-year-old boy with special powers, as well as a protagonist who quit his job as a journalist after the death of his wife.

Hallford alleges that Kring even got his characters' names—Martin and Jake Bohm—from a physicist mentioned in his book, David Bohm.

He also claims that there are "dozens of identical events that occur in virtually the same sequence" in both stories, and we're assuming he's referring to the Touch pilot, which premiered in January and is the only thing anyone has seen so far. The show starts its regular run on Thursday, March 22.

Fox TV, Kring and Sutherland are all named in the lawsuit, which seeks to halt airing of the show as well as statutory damages.

By the way, this isn't the first time Kring has been caught up in this kind of thing—someone sued him over a storyline in the fourth season of Heroes, claiming it was lifted from a graphic novel. The writer in that case lost and was ordered by a judge to pay $113,000 to NBC.

Is this just another case of someone playing fast and loose with the U.S. litigation system, or could this case have actual merit?