More on the ‘Hurt Locker’ Identity Theft Lawsuit

Eriq Gardner of THR, Esq. analyzes Sergeant Jeffrey S. Sarver’s lawsuit against the makers of “The Hurt Locker” and comes out with some interesting thoughts.

Sarver’s best claim might be that the film was wrong in its veiled depiction of him. And indeed, in addition to claims for right of publicity and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the defendants are being sued for defamation for portraying a character who is a “bad father,” “messed up,” “reckless,” “unstable,” enjoys playing cruel practical jokes on people, etc.

But the lawsuit — which names distributor Summit Entertainment, production company Grosvenor Park, screenwriter Mark Boal, director Kathryn Bigelow, producer Nicolas Chartier, Playboy Enterprises (Boal’s screenplay was based on his Playboy article) and others — holds a big surprise that may inform how the plaintiff intends to overcome the First Amendment issues.

According to the complaint, before Boal was embedded with the military, he and Playboy agreed to “ground rules” set by the Department of Defense. One of the rules was that reporters would be restricted in the type of personal information they could report on a service member. Reporters were limited to releasing a member’s name and hometown only, and only on the condition the service member had provided consent.

Was this agreement sufficient to give Sarver a stake in the story and film? He says so. Another claim in the lawsuit is for breach of contract. Another is violation of privacy.


Also on THR Esq., Gardner digs up a funny email by disgraced Hurt Locker producer Chartier, responding to Sarver’s lawyers:

“Hi I’m sorry I’ve never heard of sergeant sarver/will james. I don’t understand is he an actor named will james or jeffrey sarver, I just looked on internet movie database and neither are in the film. I can google but maybe you can tell me who is he and why he’s not happy? Everyone says it’s one of the best movies of the year, did he just not like the popcorn when he watched the movie? I haven’t taken any grossly unfair action against him, I’ve never heard of him. what negative impact, who’s that man? Did I steal his girlfriend? Never heard of him.

Previously on FBLA:

  • ‘Hurt Locker’ Sued by Army Sergeant for Identity Theft
  • ‘Hurt Locker’ Producer Banned from Attending Oscars
  • Why ‘The Hurt Locker’ is Hurtin’