December 08, 2011 9:46pm PT by Matthew Belloni
Iraq War Vet Ordered to Pay $187,000 in Failed Lawsuit Against 'Hurt Locker' Producers (Exclusive)
A federal judge has ordered the Iraq war veteran who claims The Hurt Locker is based on his life to pay more than $180,000 in attorneys fees for filing a lawsuit that was tossed by the court.
As you'll recall, just days before the 2010 Academy Awards, Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver made a splash by suing Hurt Locker filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, as well as producer-financiers Nicholas Chartier and Greg Shapiro and distributor Summit Entertainment, claiming that the Jeremy Renner character in the best picture Oscar winner was based on his experiences as a bomb disposal expert. Sarver believes that the depiction portrayed him in a false light and caused him significant damages.
Boal, a journalist who embedded with Sarver's unit for a Playboy magazine article that informed his writing of the Hurt Locker screenplay, denied that the story was based on Sarver or any one soldier. The filmmakers later filed an anti-SLAPP motion asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit because it sought to stifle free speech. On Oct. 13, U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen ruled that the entire case should be dismissed.
Under California law, winning an anti-SLAPP motion entitles the defendants to have their attorneys fees paid for by the losing plaintiff. So the filmmakers submitted their expenses to the court, which has now approved a modified total that Sarver must pay.
According to court documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the total breaks down as follows: $38,000 for Boal and Bigelow, $90,000 for the Hurt Locker producing team and $59,000 for Summit. That's $187,000, by our calculation.
We've reached out to Sarver attorney Todd Weglarz for comment on the ruling and will update with a response. Sarver has said he will appeal the initial decision. Sources tell THR that at least some of the Hurt Locker defendants would have agreed to drop their requests for attorney fees in exchange for Sarver dropping the matter, but he has chosen to fight.
Boal and Bigelow are represented by Jeremiah Reynolds and Dale Kinsella at Santa Monica's Kinsella Weitzman firm. The producers are repped by Tim Gorry, Jon-Jamison Hill and Jackie Joseph of Beverly Hills' Eisner Kahan & Gorry. Summit is repped by David Halberstadter and Sally Wu of L.A.'s Katten firm.