Ava DuVernay, Netflix Receive Verdict In ‘When They See Us’ Defamation Lawsuit

Ava DuVernay, Netflix Receive Verdict In ‘When They See Us’ Defamation Lawsuit

John E. Reid & Associates claimed the interrogation scene was misrepresented in the series.

Published March 24th

Written by Paul Meara

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay and Netflix have beaten a lawsuit over the Emmy-nominated series When They See Us over a complaint over how an interrogation method was portrayed in an intense sequence.

In the suit, plaintiff John E. Reid, a former policeman who created an interrogation procedure called the “Reid style” that he has taught to law enforcement officers across the country, claimed that his technique was disparaged in the series. But a judge did not agree.

“Because the First Amendment protects non-factual assertions (and because neither defendants Ava DuVernay nor Array Alliance Inc. has sufficient minimum contacts with the State of Illinois to justify haling them into court here), Reid’s complaint is dismissed,” U.S. District Court Judge Manish Shah wrote on Monday (March 23), according to Deadline.

RELATED: ‘When They See Us' Composer Kris Bowers Reveals Why The Horror Genre Was His Leading Inspiration For The Project

This ends an action started back in October by Reid's consultancy firm, John E. Reid & Associates over the controversial trademarked method.

“If the technique is as widely used as Reid says it is, the effect of the criticism has been felt well beyond Illinois’s borders,” Judge Shah continued in his ruling. “To find that DuVernay should be haled into court here because she criticized a process sold by a company that happens to be located in Illinois would be to offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”

The court declared, in a corresponding document, that the judgment in the civil case is “in favor of defendants Netflix, Inc., Ava DuVernay, and Array Alliance, Inc., and against plaintiff John E. Reid and Associates, Inc.”

But that isn't the only litigation DuVernay and Netflix are facing. The pair were also sued on March 18 by former Manhattan prosecutor Linda Fairstein, who claims most of what the four-part series depicts in regards to her actions at the time were categorically false.

RELATED: Linda Fairstein Reportedly Suing Ava Duvernay Over ‘When They See Us’ Series

"When They See Us" depicts in great detail the ordeal of the Central Park Five in which a group of Black and brown teenagers — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise — were accused in 1989  of the brutal rape of a young woman, Trisha Meili, in New York.

They were each incarcerated in juvenile facilities (except for Wise, who was sent to an adult prison), but were later exonerated when evidence of their innocence emerged in 2002. The city of New York settled with them for $41 million in 2014.

Photo Credit: John Lamparski/Getty Images


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