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One of the showcase stars of Jackass, who won’t be seen in the newest sequel set for release on Sept. 3, is raising a big legal challenge over his ouster from the franchise. According to a complaint filed by Brandon “Bam” Margera on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, producers violated his civil rights when they forced him to sign a “Wellness Agreement” and then cut him loose after a positive drug test. Margera says he suffers from physical and mental disabilities and that his termination amounts to illegal discrimination.
In his suit against Paramount Pictures, MTV Networks, Jeff Tremaine, Johnny Knoxville, Spike Jonze and other associated entities, Margera says he’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder. He also admits to a history of abusing alcohol. He says he’s been in and out of rehab since 2009.
Two years ago, Margera says he was in one such rehab facility when Tremaine, Knoxville and Jonze “accosted him and coerced him” into an agreement.
The Wellness Agreement, as it’s being referred to here, allowed for his immediate termination in the event he didn’t blow into a breathalyzer three times a day, submit to a urinalysis twice a week, have his have his hair follicles tested on a regular basis, and take pills every morning while on a FaceTime call with a doctor hired by Paramount.
The suit, with references to Britney Spears’ conservatorship, calls this agreement “draconian” and “psychological torture,” plus “legally unenforceable.”
That noted, the complaint adds, “Margera did not slip up. He followed the provisions of the Wellness Agreement to a tee, at great personal cost. Defendants’ treatment of Margera exacerbated his mental health issues and led to suicidal thoughts. But still, Margera persevered — only to have the rug pulled out from under him.”
According to Margera, represented by attorney Eric George, the star was ousted after “one of the numerous drug tests Margera was forced to submit to demonstrated that he was taking prescription Adderall. Defendants knew full well that Margera had to take Adderall to treat his attention deficit disorder. He had been on this medication for several years. But all of this notwithstanding, and without even giving Margera an opportunity to explain, Paramount fired him.”
The suit claims the producers’ actions against Margera were a violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, an unlawful retaliation and a wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Additionally, Margera is suing defendants for breaching his deal to star in Jackass, plus fraudulently inducing him into the agreement.
The suit also includes a rather bold if long-shot claim that the forthcoming Jackass 4 constitutes an infringement of his intellectual property (namely, his “ideas,” even though ideas aren’t entitled to copyright protection) and that he deserves a piece of profits.
In fact, through his suit, Margera takes credit for creating Jackass, the stunt program that’s been extremely popular since debuting on MTV in 2000. While the franchise has generally been credited over the years to Tremaine, Knoxville and Jonze, Margera says much of the original footage from the first MTV season traces back to his CKY Crew, before the others came on board, and that Jackass would have been “impossible” without him.
Margera is shooting for an injunction on the release of Jackass 4. That’s extremely unlikely to happen, so he’s demanding monetary damages as well.
The Hollywood Reporter is reaching out to MTV Studios and will also add any comment that comes from the other defendants.
In May, Knoxville spoke to GQ and commented, “We want Bam to be happy and healthy and get the help he needs. We tried to push that along. I think that’s all I really want to say about it.”
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