Jerry Heller’s Lawsuit Over N.W.A’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’ Film Dismissed
Heller died in 2016, at the age of 75, but his lawsuit continued on. On Friday (Dec. 21) a California judge sided with Universal, citing Heller's estate's lack of proof, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
"[E]ven assuming Plaintiff could establish that there was an objective manifestation of intent to be co-authors, the TAC lacks any allegation that Heller exercised control over the Screenplay," writes U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald. "Even assuming Plaintiff had alleged sufficient facts to establish statutory standing, as Defendants highlight, Plaintiff’s claim for copyright infringement must be dismissed because Plaintiff’s allegations establish that Universal was licensed to use the Screenplay by alleged co-authors Savidge, Wenkus, and Xenon."
The suit was initially filed in 2015. Following Heller's death in 2016, the suit was in jeopardy and mostly dismissed by a judge. It was refiled by the businessman's estate and amended to include unjust enrichment against S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus and Xenon Pictures, whom Keller claimed to have worked with on a screenplay about the group. Ultimately, the entire thing has been thrown out.
Heller's lawyer Mickey Shapiro claimed the film was a contributing factor to his death from a heart attack. Back in 2016, Shapiro told TMZ, "Jerry Heller would be alive today if not for that movie," adding his neegative depiction in the film led to "tremendous amount of stress" for Heller.
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