A New Jersey federal judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against the producers of Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson's new movie Out Of The Furnace over the film's portrayal of a group of Native Americans.
Members of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation took issue with a number of unsavoury characters bearing last names common among their tribe, including that of the film's villain, crime ringleader Harlan DeGroat, played by Harrelson.
The gang is described in the film as a community of "inbreds", and a total of 17 plaintiffs, eight of whom bear the name DeGroat, filed suit in December (13), demanding compensation.
Last month (Apr14) bosses at Leonardo DiCaprio's production company Appian Way Productions and Relativity Media asked for a dismissal, citing the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment freedom of speech right, and on Wednesday (14May14), U.S. District Judge William Walls granted the request.
In his ruling he said, "Plaintiffs plead only that some of them share the same surname, but not first name, as two of the characters in the movie. They also contend that they are Ramapoughs, as are the characters in the movie, and that many of them live in the same region as the Ramapoughs. These allegations do not suffice to show that the alleged defamatory statements are 'of and concerning' these Plaintiffs."
Reacting to the news, a Relativity Media spokesperson says, "We are pleased with the New Jersey Federal Court's decision today to dismiss the complaint... As we have said all along, the picture is not based upon any particular person or group of people, and the Court agreed with us on this point. We are satisfied that the court has upheld the right of free speech in the context of this purely fictional film."