Netflix Dodges Bid to Halt Release of 'The Laundromat'

The Laundromat - TIFF - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of TIFF

The law firm of Mossack Fonseca was no more successful in attempting to halt Netflix's release of The Laundromat as they were three years ago in attempting to lock down more than 11 million of the firm's documents. Just before the Steven Soderbergh film began streaming on Friday, a federal judge decided that Mossack Fonseca had no business bringing a defamation and trademark suit over the movie in Connecticut court. 

The 2016 leak of documents belonging to Mossack Fonseca — known by the "Panama Papers" — revealed how the world's powerful attempted to shelter their money. The scandal inspired The Laundromat, which stars Meryl Streep investigating the death of her husband and discovering the firm's allegedly shady dealings.

Earlier this week, Jürgen Mossack (played by Gary Oldman) and Ramón Fonseca (Antonio Banderas) filed suit over the film. They claimed The Laundromat falsely cast them as criminals and illicitly used the firm's logos. As American prosecutors continue to investigate associates and clients of Mossack Fonseca, the two named partners at the firm sought to stop distribution with concern that the movie's release could shape public opinion and potentially interfere with their rights to a fair trial should they ever be arrested.

In response, Netflix called the suit "laughable," and an "affront to established First Amendment principles," but the move from the streaming giant that most immediately dodged a requested restraining order was bringing a jurisdictional challenge.

On Thursday night, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Arterton recognized that neither of the parties had much connection with Connecticut and that the plaintiff hadn't sufficiently established why the state's long-arm statute provided cause to adjudicate the dispute there. As such, the case was transferred to California.

Here's the full order.

Netflix was pleased by the ruling and used the firm's failed censorship attempt as an opportunity to promote the film.

Said a spokesperson, "This lawsuit was a frivolous legal stunt designed to censor creative expression. Steven Soderbergh’s film tells an important story about the exploitation of innocent people and the misuse of the world’s financial system. Fortunately, you can now watch The Laundromat — the film that Mossack and Fonesca tried to censor — on Netflix.”