The series depicts a mysterious figure who gains a following by performing miracles in the desert. In the third and fourth episodes, the character is detained at an immigration facility in Texas, which is identified with GEO Group logos.
The suit claims that the show depicts the facility in a defamatory light. The inmates do not have beds, are kept in overcrowded conditions and surrounded by chain-link fences.
“Unlike in ‘Messiah,’ GEO does not house people in overcrowded rooms with chainlink cages at its Facilities, but provides beds, bedding, air conditioning, indoor and outdoor recreational spaces, soccer fields, classrooms, libraries, and other amenities that rebut ‘Messiah’’s defamatory falsehoods,” the complaint states.
The suit includes colorful photographs of libraries, classrooms and recreation facilities at GEO detention centers.
The complaint also accuses Netflix of trademark infringement for using the GEO Group logos in several scenes.
“Netflix’s use of the GEO Trademarks served no purpose other than to harm GEO’s good will and reputation,” the suit states. “Because GEO’s Facilities do not resemble the facilities depicted in ‘Messiah,’ use of the GEO Trademarks does not further a goal of realism.”
Netflix declined to comment.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill last year that bans private prison facilities in the state, including federal detention centers. The GEO Group and the U.S. Department of Justice are suing to block the implementation of the law.
The GEO Group is facing a number of lawsuits alleging that it pays inmates less than minimum wage for work done at its facilities. The company is fighting those lawsuits.