“Winnie the Pooh” Lawsuit Judge, Florence Cooper, Dies

SANTA MONICA —On January 19, 69-year-old federal judge Florence Marie Cooper, passed away in a hospital in Santa Monica, where she was being treated for lymphoma. She died just two months before her intended retirement.

Cooper was born on February 9, 1940, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She attended City College of San Francisco in 1971 and Whittier College School of Law, J.D., 1975. Cooper was a law clerk for Arthur Alarcon, Los Angeles Superior Court, Appellate Department, from 1975-1977, and was a deputy city attorney of Los Angeles in 1977. She was a senior research attorney for Arthur Alarcon, Second Appellate District, California Court of Appeal, in 1978-1980, and an adjunct professor at the San Fernando Valley College School of Law in 1980-1985. Additionally, she was a court commissioner at the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1983-1990, a judge of the Los Angeles Municipal Court of 1990-1991, and a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court of 1991-1999.  Cooper was also a federal judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.


Stephen Slesinger and Winnie the Pooh

Cooper was the judge who dismissed a copyright lawsuit filed by the estate of Stephen Slesinger, who initially began to market the beloved cartoon character, Winnie the Pooh. She granted Slesinger, the claimer of rightful ownership of the child’s favorite, a summary judgment that terminated Disney’s attempts to reclaim the copyright. The court battle had lasted for nearly 20 years.

Cooper also presided over the case involving accused Chinese spy Katrina Leung, which Cooper dismissed on grounds of governmental misconduct.  Cooper also ruled in a case involving the family of the late rap star Christopher Wallace, widely known as the “Notorious B.I.G.”

Cooper is survived by her husband, Les Picken, her two daughters, Karen Albert and Angela Sample, her son, Joe Andrus, her sister, Maureen Kelly Schulze and her grandchildren.  Funeral services remain pending.