A federal judge has ruled against a group of Ramapough Lunaape who filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against the makers of the film Out of the Furnace, stating that the negative depictions in the film cannot be proven to be "of and concerning" the Ramapough.
"Plaintiffs plead only that some of them share the same surname, but not first name, as two of the characters in the movie," Judge William Walls wrote in the opinion delivered May 14. "They also contend that they are Ramapoughs, as are the characters in the movie, and that many of them live in the same region as the Ramapoughs. These allegations do not suffice to show that the alleged defamatory statements are 'of and concerning' these Plaintiffs."
According to an AP report, Lydia Cotz, lawyer for the 17 plaintiffs, said she was "disappointed that the court did not view my clients' perspective as meritorious, but we are pleased that this litigation let the makers of this film, as well as the region in general, know that there are contrary views about this community's character and values."
A spokesperson for Relativity, Out of the Furnace's production company, said that "We are satisfied that the Court has upheld the right of free speech in the context of this purely fictional film," according to the Hollywood Reporter.