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NBC Universal is reacting strongly to the class action suit filed Wednesday by former DEA agents. That complaint alleges that Universal Pictures’ “American Gangster” slandered the DEA’s entire New York bureau.
Universal spokesman Michael Moses said in a statement that “American Gangster does not defame these, or any, federal agents…The end legend specifically refers to members of ‘New York City’s Drug Enforcement Agency’ – not the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, where the plaintiffs formerly worked. We believe the lawsuit is entirely without merit.”
The statement echoes a December 7 letter sent to plaintiffs’ attorney by NBC senior vp litigation David Burg, stating “The corrupt law enforcement officers portrayed in the film are specifically identified as members of the New York City Police Department, and the film refers to their subsequent prosecution by the federal government.”
For what it’s worth, when we saw the film we believed the corrupt officials to be New York police officers, not DEA agents. Although defamation claims don’t have to name the plaintiff(s) per se — the aggrieved party only has to be reasonably identifiable — we may have to pony up to see this film again, just to be sure. Who says that class action suits don’t have their marketing advantages?
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