Judge sinks ‘Storm’ lawsuit

WB's 'Perfect' portrayals hold up in court

A federal court judge today threw out a case brought by relatives of crewmen portrayed in the Warner Bros. Pictures film “The Perfect Storm.” The case was set to go to trial June 3.

In a 12-page order, U.S. District Court Judge Anne Conway of Florida dismissed the entire action.

The plaintiffs alleged Warner Bros. violated their rights of publicity and privacy and that they were entitled to $10 million dollars in damages. Warner asked the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiffs’ claims were legally defective and unconstitutional.

Shortly after the blockbuster film was released in 2000, the ex-wives of Billy Tyne (portrayed in the film by George Clooney) and Dale Murphy (portrayed by John C. Reilly) sued Warner Bros. on behalf of themselves and their children, objecting to the way their ex-husbands were portrayed and claiming the studio did not have the right to make the film without first obtaining their permission and compensating them. Doug Kosko, a fisherman briefly portrayed in the film, also sued.

In a statement, Warner Bros. said: “We are extremely pleased with the court’s ruling in this important case. The plaintiffs’ theory that Warner Bros. needed their permission to make ‘The Perfect Storm’ and were required to tell the tragic story of the Andrea Gail the way plaintiffs wanted it told profoundly threatened free speech.”

“The Perfect Storm,” based on Sebastian Junger’s 1997 bestselling nonfiction book of the same name, told the story of the unprecedented storm that struck off the coast of New England in 1991. The swordfishing boat Andrea Gail was caught in the storm and lost at sea, resulting in the deaths of the boat’s captain, Billy Tyne, and five crew members. While based on a true story, certain elements of the film were fictionalized.