‘Straight Outta Compton’ Lawsuit in Jeopardy Due to Jerry Heller’s Death
Jerry Heller's recent death could put his Straight Outta Compton lawsuit in jeopardy. The Hollywood Reporter has learned that court papers filed Monday (Oct. 3) asserted that without a plaintiff, the lawsuit might not proceed.
The former N.W.A. manager was in the process of suing the film's producers for defamation of character over his portrayal in the movie when he died of a heart attack on Sept. 2 of this year. Heller was 75 years old.
The biopic based on the early days of the Compton-based gangsta rap crew told the story of N.W.A.'s rise to fame. Along the way, as Heller argues, it painted the group's first manager as conniving and money-hungry, which caused a wedge between Eazy and Ice Cube in the early days. The film opened in theaters in August of 2015 and by October of 2015, Heller had filed to sue the film's producers, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, for defamation of character. Though most of Heller's claims had been thrown out in the ongoing lawsuit, the claim that he was portrayed as exploiting a young artist (Eazy E) by discouraging him from hiring a lawyer during contract negotiations was still under contention.
Heller was set to be deposed in the case back in August, but bowed out last minute due to failing health. After his death in September, Heller's lawyers tried to argue that the film had contributed to his passing.
Straight Outta Compton was a record-setting box office smash. Compton won the honor of Outstanding Motion Picture at the 2016 NAACP Image Awards and the True Story Award at the 2016 MTV Movie Awards. It's also the highest-grossing film by a black director in history, pulling in $201.6 million worldwide.
Heller's lawyer, Michael Shapiro, is seeking a stay of the lawsuit until Oct. 20 to try to persuade the courts to continue the suit in the name of its late plaintiff.
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