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

Less than a week after Netflix and Ava DuVernay were sued by an ex-prosecutor depicted in When They See Us, the undoubtedly happy duo today saw a federal judge dismiss a previous lawsuit over the Emmy winning miniseries.

“Because the First Amendment protects non-factual assertions (and because neither defendants 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,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Manish Shah on Monday (read the order here). This ends an action started back in October last year by John E. Reid & Associates over their trademark controversial interrogation technique.

Not that Judge Shah let it end there.

“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 noted. “To find that DuVernay should be haled 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.”

To further that point, in a corresponding document, the court declared that the judgement in the midwest-based civil case is “in favor of defendants Netflix, Inc., Ava DuVernay, and Array Alliance, Inc., and against plaintiff John E. Reid and Associates, Inc.”

All of which means, this legal grilling of the streamer and the creative force behind the four-parter about the five young men falsely accused of brutally raping and beating a Central Park female jogger in 1989 is DOA as of today.

In the weeks after WTSU’s Jharrel Jerome picked up his Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, the Illinois set-John E. Reid & Associates took DuVernay, her ARRAY shingle and Netflix to court over a line in the series calling the company’s once widely used technique as “universally rejected.” The plaintiffs wanted unspecified widespread damages and profits and they also sought to have the June 12, 2019 launching and critically acclaimed miniseries taken off the streamer globally until the offending line in the fourth episode was omitted or changed.

Rejecting that premise and desire, the streamer and the director said in paperwork of their own last November that the matter should be terminated – and now it is.

Still, one down and one to go as Netflix and DuVernay were sued on March 18 by former Manhattan Assistant D.A. Linda Fairstein for defamation. “Linda Fairstein’s frivolous lawsuit is without merit,” a spokesperson for the streamer said last week.

In the case of the now over Reid & Associates case, Netflix went for less is more and simply said “we’re pleased the court has found in our favor,” when asked for comment on today’s ruling …probably too busy doing their socially distant happy dance!

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