Future of 'Straight Outta Compton' Lawsuit Uncertain Following Jerry Heller's Death

The late N.W.A manager sued the filmmakers for defamation.
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'Straight Outta Compton'; Jerry Heller (inset)

Without a plaintiff, the lawsuit that accuses Straight Outta Compton of defaming former NWA manager Jerry Heller may not proceed, according to a Monday court filing. 

Heller died of a heart attack on Sept. 2 while fighting a defamation lawsuit against the biopic's producers and others involved with the film.

Although the court has tossed most of the complaint during the course of the proceedings, there is still one claim that survives: that Heller was portrayed as exploiting an unsophisticated young artist by discouraging him from hiring a lawyer during contract negotiations.

Heller was set to be deposed in August, but his attorneys canceled the day before — claiming the defense team has an unspecified conflict of interest that would disqualify them from continuing to represent the defendants in this case, according to a joint statement filed by defense attorney Jeff Scott with the agreement of Heller's attorney Michael Shapiro. Defense counsel disputed the conflict and asked to move forward, but Heller died before the issue could be resolved.

Shapiro is seeking a stay of the lawsuit until Oct. 20, to try to get the court's permission to continue the suit in the name of a successor-in-interest. 

However, no successor has been named thus far and it also remains to be seen whether Heller's team plans to pursue a motion to disqualify some or all of the defense team.