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“Real Life” Hurt Locker Sergeant Ordered to Pay Attorneys’ Fees

Iraq war veteran Sergeant Jeffrey Sarver believed his life story had been taken, without his permission, for use in the Oscar-winning Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker, when he sued the filmmakers and other related parties only days before the 2010 Academy Awards. However, after an October 2011 dismissal of his lawsuit by United States District Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, and a subsequent order issued by the same judge earlier this week, Sarver has quickly come to realize that he risks losing much more than he anticipated.

Pursuant to court order, Sarver is obligated to pay $187,125 in attorneys’ fees. According to court documents, Director Kathryn Begelow and Screenwriter Mark Boal are to receive $37,975.50, the film’s producers are to receive $89,753.85, and the film’s distributor—Summit Entertainment—is to receive $59,395.30. The court order directing Sarver to pay the defendants’ attorneys’ fees was issued in response to motions to strike filed by the defendants pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, commonly known as anti-SLAPP—a provision appropriate in free speech cases. Under anti-SLAPP, a prevailing party is entitled to reimbursement of their attorneys’ fees.

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