War vet in spat over movie

2010-11-20 07:29

New Jersey – An Iraq war veteran can sue the makers of the Academy Award-winning film The Hurt Locker in California over his claim that the lead character was based on him and he was given no credit or compensation, a judge ruled.

US District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh also denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit, though the ruling focused on the issue of jurisdiction and not on the merits of the case.

The lawsuit was brought last spring by Master Sergeant Jeffrey Sarver, an Army bomb disposal expert.

Screenwriter Mark Boal wrote about Sarver in an article published in Playboy magazine in 2005. Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow are defendants in the lawsuit, as are Playboy Enterprises, Kingsgate Films and other companies involved in the film’s production and distribution.

The Hurt Locker won six Oscars in 2010, including best picture, best director and best original screenplay.

Sarver brought the suit in New Jersey because he lived there during the time the film was produced, according to court filings. But Cavanaugh’s ruling noted that Sarver had moved to Tennessee by the time the film opened nationwide and called the choice of New Jersey “seemingly random”.

According to the lawsuit, Sarver deployed to Iraq in 2004 as an explosive ordnance disposal technician tasked with identifying and disposing unexploded munitions and IEDs (improvised explosive devices).

Boal was embedded with Sarver’s company for 30 days in late 2004 and ultimately produced an article, “The Man in the Bomb Suit,” for Playboy that revealed numerous details of Sarver’s personal life.

Sarver claims that the Hurt Locker character Will James, played in the movie by Jeremy Renner, “is really the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff’s name and likeness, and Plaintiff’s personal story which were misappropriated by Defendants without Plaintiff’s consent”.

The suit also claims Sarver was Boal’s source for the phrase “hurt locker,” which the writer heard Sarver use several times.

When the lawsuit was filed, Boal disputed that the lead character was based entirely on Sarver and said the film was a work of fiction.

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