*The lawsuit brought against the film “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A.’s former manager Jerry Heller was nearly thrown out at a hearing on Monday, but U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald gave him a chance to amend his original claim and resubmit it, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Heller ‘s lawsuit contends that he was defamed in the film for doing things like withholding a $75,000 check from Ice Cube and enjoying lobster brunches while contracts were being finalized. Heller also says he was not compensated for the use of his likeness and claims that the defendants stole his work and breached an agreement that settled an old dispute with the Eazy E estate.
NBCUniversal seeks to have the lawsuit dismissed as an impingement of free speech and argues that Heller has no hopes of prevailing since the film touched upon controversial historical events subject to various interpretations — and that Heller himself has injected himself into the controversy by authoring his own book recounting his version of these events.
“Mr. Heller is clearly a sophisticated and wealthy man,” said Fitzgerald at Monday’s hearing. “He’s written this book. They’ve made this movie….In the ’80s, as an old white guy I was aware of N.W.A. As the case goes forward, Mr. Heller is going to have some real trouble here.”
The judge granted Heller’s motions in part, but has allowed an amended complaint to cure deficiencies. (A copy of the tentative order was only provided to the attorneys in the case.)
“The court’s made it clear we have one more shot at this,” said Heller’s attorney Michael Shapiro.