updated 8/29/2007 2:25:34 PM ET 2007-08-29T18:25:34

Geena Davis has sued the owners of a Minnesota-based advocacy group for allegedly taking her idea for a charitable foundation and promoting it as their own.

The actress filed her lawsuit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Joseph Kelly and Nancy Gruver of the Dads & Daughters nonprofit organization seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Kelly is president and Gruver is executive director of the organization.

Davis, 51, said in court papers that she came up with the idea for the See Jane Foundation, which encourages balanced gender representation in entertainment for children, in 2004.

She alleges that Kelly and Gruver agreed to be the project’s fiscal sponsors after meeting with her and that she raised nearly $750,000 in donations. But the pair later informed her “that they were the owners of the See Jane project and whatever legal rights existed in the See Jane name and goodwill,” according to the lawsuit.

Kelly and Gruver also told others they owned the project, and have used Davis’ name and likeness without her permission to promote Dads & Daughters, Davis said in the lawsuit.

In an e-mail Tuesday to The Associated Press, Kelly denied the claim, saying he and Gruver were “shocked” by the lawsuit and that it was “filled with inaccuracies and false allegations.”
Kelly said that as a nonprofit organization, Dads & Daughters is governed by its board of directors and doesn’t have individual owners.

According to Kelly, Davis said in July she wanted See Jane to operate independently from Dads & Daughters and establish the program on its own.

“Although we were incredibly disappointed, we’ve been working collaboratively and cordially with her to make this happen,” he said, adding that they hoped to resolve the issue in a “less hostile fashion.”

Davis, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for “The Accidental Tourist” in 1989, has also starred in “Beetle Juice,” “Thelma & Louise” and the ABC series “Commander in Chief.”

Duluth-based Dads & Daughters advocates for girls’ well-being and creates programs and publications that support fathers’ involvement in the lives of their daughters, according to the group’s Web site.

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