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Court revives 'Perfect Storm' lawsuit

Two fishermen's families allege the men were cast in a negative light. The lawsuit seeks part of the movie's profits.

©Associated Press
January 12, 2003

BRADENTON -- A federal appeals court in Atlanta has agreed to hear arguments in a lawsuit that alleges two fishermen were negatively portrayed without consent in the movie The Perfect Storm.

The court agreed Friday to revive the lawsuit filed by the fishermen's families. The suit was dismissed last year in Orlando when a judge ruled that no law prohibited filmmakers from making up events. A hearing is set for March 14.

Jodi Tyne, the wife of the late fishing boat captain Frank William "Billy" Tyne Jr., sued Time Warner Entertainment Co. and the two companies that produced the film in U.S. District Court in 2000 contending Tyne was cast in a negative light in the film. The lawsuit also charged the film was produced without her consent and her privacy was violated.

The family of one of Tyne's crew members, Dale Murphy, later joined the lawsuit.

The film, based on Sebastian Junger's bestselling book by the same name, tells the story of Tyne's final swordfishing expedition in October 1991 into the heart of storms that converged in the North Atlantic.

Tyne and five crew members on the Gloucester, Mass., vessel drowned, and the boat, the Andrea Gail, was never found.

Tyne and her two daughters are seeking part of the $150-million made from the movie. According to the complaint, the film depicted Tyne, who was portrayed by actor George Clooney, as "unprofessional, unseaworthy, and incompetent."

A lawyer for Jodi Tyne of Bradenton said all filmmakers should be concerned about how the lawsuit turns out.

"To have your loved one fictionalized for the purpose of exploiting some aspect of your life just to make money harms the subject, the subject's family and the public," said Steve Calvacca.

But Warner Bros. attorneys said the studio did not illegally profit off family members.

"We didn't make an action figure out of them and we didn't put them on a Wheaties box," Tampa attorney Gregg Thomas said. "We simply used their story."

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