Artist News Business News Legal

Straight Outta Compton defamation lawsuit could continue if ‘successor-in-interest’ can be found

By | Published on Tuesday 4 October 2016

Straight Outta Compton

The lawyer who was representing the recently deceased former NWA manager Jerry Heller in his defamation lawsuit against the makers of the ‘Straight Outta Compton’ movie has requested that the case be put on hold while he seeks a ‘successor-in-interest’ to pursue the action.

As previously reported, Heller, who died last month aged 75, sued pretty much everyone involved in the NWA biopic late last year, claiming his portrayal in the film constituted defamation.

Much of the lawsuit was then dismissed in July, though one element was allowed to proceed, with the judge overseeing the case noting that “the film arguably portrays plaintiff as an exploitative record label manager who attempted to take advantage of an unsophisticated artist by discouraging him from retaining an attorney during contract negotiations”.

Nothing in the record suggested that was true, and the judge reckoned there was a sufficient case to argue that that portrayal of Heller could constitute defamation.

Following Heller’s death last month, it wasn’t clear how the defamation case would now proceed. He had been due to provide a deposition in August, but that was postponed over a dispute regarding the defence’s legal representation, who Heller’s team argued had a conflict of interest.

This week, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Heller’s lawyer Michael Shapiro submitted papers with the court requesting a stay of the lawsuit until 20 Oct to give him time to seek a so called ‘successor-in-interest’ to take on the role of plaintiff in the case. It remains to be seen who might take on that role on behalf of the now deceased former NWA manager.