Ava DuVernay & Netflix Win ‘When They See Us’ Defamation Suit

Ava DuVernay & Netflix Win ‘When They See Us’ Defamation Suit; Judge Dismisses Battle Over Interrogation Scene

Netflix and Ava DuVernay won the defamation suit filed by an ex-prosecutor who was portrayed in the Emmy-nominated miniseries When They See Us, according to Deadline. A federal judge dismissed the case on Monday (March 23).

“Because the First Amendment protects non-factual assertions (and because neither defendant’s 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,” reportedly wrote U.S. District Court Judge Manish Shah on Monday.

The lawsuit filed by John E. Reid & Associates was over their controversial interrogation technique.

“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,” the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division official stated. “To find that DuVernay should be hauled 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.”

Furthermore, the court found the judgment in the Midwest-based civil case, “in favor of defendants Netflix, Inc., Ava DuVernay, and Array Alliance, Inc., and against plaintiff John E. Reid and Associates, Inc.”

Netflix stated after the ruling of the Reid and Associates case on Monday that they were, “pleased the court has found in our favor.”

The Netflix four-part miniseries When They See Us was released on June 12, 2019, about five young teens of color falsely accused of horrifically raping and beating a Caucasian woman that was jogging in Central Park in 1989.

Weeks after Jharrel Jerome won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie; the Illinois based John E. Reid & Associates filed a suit against Ava DuVernay, her independent film distribution and resource collective company titled Array Alliance, and Netflix over a line in the series that stated the interrogation technique the company routinely used was “universally rejected.” They asked for the series to be taken off of Netflix globally until the line was removed or changed and for unspecified damages and profits.

Netflix and DuVernay filed paperwork last November, stating that the case should be terminated. Their wishes have been delivered.

Netflix and DuVernay were also sued on March 18 by Manhattan Assistant D.A. Linda Fairstein for defamation of character. “Linda Fairstein’s frivolous lawsuit is without merit,” a spokesperson for Netflix stated.


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