TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Judge Dismisses Defamation Claim Based On "American Gangster"

About a month ago, a group of retired federal drug enforcement agents sued Universal Pictures, alleging that they were defamed by a statement appearing at the end of the film "American Gangster."   The statement said that Harlem heroin dealer Frank Lucas' "collaboration (with law enforcement) led to the conviction of three-quarters of New York City's Drug Enforcement Agency."

As MSN reports, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon dismissed the suit because it failed to meet defamation law standards:  no DEA Agent was identified, and there was no suggestion that any federal DEA agent was corrupt.   

However, she did take a shot at NBC Universal, saying it would "behoove a major corporation like Universal (which is owned by a major news organization, NBC) not to put inaccurate statements at the end of popular films."

"There was and is no federal, state or local agency called the `New York City Drug Enforcement Agency,'" the judge noted. "To put it bluntly ... the `legend' that appears on-screen at the end of the film is wholly inaccurate."


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