'Hurt Locker' lawsuit hasn't even been served yet

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'Hurt Locker' lawsuit hasn't even been served yet

Wed Mar 31, 2010 @ 06:47PM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Hurtlocker Curious what happened with that bombshell lawsuit filed days before the Oscars that said "The Hurt Locker" ripped off an heroic Army Master Sergeant's life story?

So are the defendants.  

Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver claimed in a March 3 complaint that "Locker" screenwriter Mark Boal had lifted the acclaimed movie from his personal story, which was featured in the Playboy article that informed Boal's Oscar-winning screenplay. Yet despite all the press attention, it's been almost a month, and the complaint hasn't officially been served on any of the defendants.

In fact, Sarver's lawyer Geoffrey Feiger tells us he's not sure when it'll be delivered to the defendants, which include distributor Summit Entertainment, producer Voltage Pictures and Greg Shapiro and Nicolas Chartier, Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow. He does say it's coming, and he brushed off a suggestion that the filing (and accompanying press conference hoopla) during Oscar week were just an attempt to scare some settlement money out of Summit and Voltage. 

"It should be served in the next 30 days," Feiger says.

State court lawsuits typically must be served within 30 or 45 days of filing, but Sarver's case was filed in federal court in New Jersey, so Feiger says the delay won't be an issue.

Still, in our experience it's pretty unusual to call a massive press conference to announce the filing of a lawsuit without serving the suit on the defendants immediately. Summit and the other defendants say they're waiting to be served before they move forward in defending the lawsuit. The studio hired litigator David Halberstadter at L.A.'s Katten Muchin firm shortly after it received a letter and a draft complaint from Feiger demanding a seven-figure settlement. But the studio chose not to respond to the letter, which, we're told, expressly threatened a messy public battle if Summit didn't pay up. 

Now we're told Summit hasn't heard from Feiger since his press conference. If the case moves forward, the defense will likely be coordinated through counsel approved by the producers' E&O insurance policy. But that won't happen until the lawsuit is served.

Our question is, will it?  

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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