The Sopranos creator DAVID CHASE has won a court case after an American judge threw out another judge's claim to have contributed to the hit mafia drama.

Trial judge JOEL PISANO dismissed JUDGE ROBERT BAER's allegation Chase used his suggestions and contributions without crediting him for them.

Baer claimed to have met Chase for a lunchtime discussion about the TV series in 1995, where he gave the writer and director details of his experiences of prosecuting mobsters.

Baer alleged he had subsequent conversations with Chase over the years leading up to The Sopranos's first screening in 1999, and that the pair had a verbal financial agreement should the show become a success.

But Judge Pisano dismissed Baer's case as unfounded and said the court will not create a contract where none existed.

The fifth season of the programme - which stars James Gandolfini as mob boss TONY SOPRANO - returns to American channel HBO on 7 March (04).

01/03/2004 05:44