August 14, 2023

Lawsuit: The Tuohy Family Robbed Michael Oher Blind: Everyone knows the heart-warming story of how the affluent southerners Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy adopted Michael Oher out of homelessness and poverty and he became a star offensive lineman at the University of Mississippi and Baltimore Ravens. Oher's newly filed lawsuit alleges that they didn't adopt him, but they did trick him into signing a conservatorship that has enabled the Tuohys and their two biological children to earn millions in royalties from The Blind Side movie and related projects while Oher didn't see a penny.

posted by rcade to football at 05:34 PM - 5 comments

"Mike's relationship with the Tuohy family started to decline when he discovered that he was portrayed in the movie as unintelligent," Stranch said. "Their relationship continued to deteriorate as he learned that he was the only member of the family not receiving royalty checks from the movie, and it was permanently fractured when he realized he wasn't adopted and a part of the family."

Oof. The hits kept right a comin'

posted by NoMich at 09:01 AM on August 15, 2023

I want to know why the Tuohy family were the ones to negotiate the movie deal. Or "a" movie deal if there were several. Sounds like some sort of family NIL arrangement on the surface.

Where is Michael Lewis in all this? We need to hear from him. The original published story was his work and his property. He didn't write the film script. Why didn't he negotiate exclusive movie rights and residuals?

We might as well go back further and have a look at Lewis' book deal to see who besides Lewis may have benefited from that.

If Oher was as fully taken advantage of as is alleged, I'd go beyond asking for a halt to the current agreements and seek retroactive compensation if possible. I have no idea if that can be done. Time to send up a Bat-Signal for tahoe.

Even if Oher doesn't prevail, a new perception of the film is getting locked in - the movie will likely become radioactive and will generate very little future revenue.

posted by beaverboard at 10:23 AM on August 15, 2023

This is a bizarre situation. If everyone in the Tuohy family but the person they say they adopted was getting royalty checks, that's a staggering level of cynical exploitation worthy of its own movie.

How could a 37-year-old man who earned $30 million in an NFL career not know that he was under a conservatorship that extended all the way to recent years?

posted by rcade at 04:51 PM on August 15, 2023

Trust in your fellow human beings, especially in those humans that say they adopted you.

posted by NoMich at 05:12 PM on August 15, 2023

Time to send up a Bat-Signal for tahoe.

Neither family law nor IP/entertainment are in my bailiwick. However, I do have two adopted kiddos, so I have some experience in that area. The line between conservatorship and adoption is not a particularly thin one, and there is no possible way to mistake one for the other. Adoption creates a legal conclusion that an individual is a family member within the first parentellic, and eligible for all rights and privileges of a natural born child. Thus, it creates legal rights for the child. A conservatorship gives the conservatorship power over finances and licensing, so it creates rights in the conservator, ostensibly for the benefit of the subject. Any attorney--especially one representing Oher--would know that.

As far as retroactive compensation, I think a legitimate case can be made for unjust enrichment if Oher was in fact defrauded or duped into signing away his rights. If he can show that the Touhy family profited from his story based on a false representation of their relationship, he's got a shot. The remedy for UI is disgorgement of all proveable profits. He's also got contractual remedies available based on fraud and unilateral mistake.

The fact that his representative was a lawyer affiliated with the Touhy family only strengthens his case, and might even expose her to some ethical liability. If she was supposed to be representing him but was, in fact, advocating for the Touhys' benefit, her license should be revoked and she should be on the hook for damages (i.e. actual losses) to Oher.

Edit: the facts of this case should be fairly cut-and-dry. Just look at the paperwork.

posted by tahoemoj at 12:47 PM on August 16, 2023

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