Nicholas Sparks-Lawsuit

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2016, file photo, novelist Nicholas Sparks attends a special screening in Los Angeles. The trial is getting underway, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in a lawsuit that accuses Sparks of defaming the former headmaster of a private Christian school he founded in North Carolina. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A jury is ready to start hearing evidence in a federal lawsuit accusing novelist Nicholas Sparks of defaming the former headmaster of a private Christian school.

The author of "Message in a Bottle" and "The Notebook" is expected to be the first witness.

Saul Hillel Benjamin accuses Sparks of telling Epiphany School parents, a job recruiter and others that Benjamin suffered from mental illness. Benjamin also says he was forced out of the position he held for less than five months. He's seeking damages for defamation and violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A jury of seven women and three men seated Wednesday in Raleigh will decide the case against the author, Sparks' foundation and the private school Sparks founded in his hometown of New Bern.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.