‘Blind Side’ football player Michael Oher's lawsuit states he was never adopted
Oher’s attorneys said in the filing that their client was told to sign conservatorship papers that the family called an “a necessary step in the adoption process,”
Michael Oher, a former NFL player and main subject of the book and film “The Blind Side,” has alleged that he was never adopted by the family who helped made his life story into a blockbuster movie.
In a 26-page petition filed in Shelby County, Tennessee, probate court, Oher asked the judge to end the conservatorship that he signed with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy in 2004. He requested the court to prevent the Touhys from using his name, image and likeness.
Oher’s request also includes the family paying him royalties from the 2009 Oscar-winning biographical film “The Blind Side.” It depicts the life story of Oher, a high school student in foster care, being adopted by the family as his football stardom grows.
Actress Sandra Bullock won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Leigh Anne in the film.
Oher’s attorneys said in the filing that their client was told to sign conservatorship papers that the family called an “a necessary step in the adoption process,” though the family didn’t legally adopt him. Oher, who was attending Briarcrest Christian School, was staying with various people before moving in with the Touhy family.
“Where other parents of Michael’s classmates saw Michael simply as a nice kid in need, Conservators Sean Tuohy and Leigh Ann Tuohy saw something else: a gullible young man whose athletic talent could be exploited for their own benefit,” the petition filed on Monday reads.
“Almost immediately after Michael moved in, the Tuohys presented him with what he understood to be legal papers that were a necessary step in the adoption process,” the petition added. “Michael trusted the Tuohys and signed where they told him to sign. What he signed, however, and unknown to Michael until after February of 2023, were not adoption papers, or the equivalent of adoption papers. Instead, it was the petition for appointment of conservators.”
The petition also said that the conservatorship gave the Touhys control any contracts Oher was negotiating at the time, adding that the couple negotiated a contract with 20th Century Fox based on Michael Lewis’ book “The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game,” which was based on Oher’s life,” the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.
Touhys’ contract with the film studio saw them receive a one-time payment of $225,000, plus 2.5% of all future proceeds from the movie for themselves and their two children, Collins and Sean Jr., according to the petition.
Oher, who would commit to the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), never received any financial compensation from the hit movie, the suit alleges.
This comes as Oher’s attorneys are also subpoenaing all documents and communications that involve Oher and the Touhy family, including financial records of the family’s Making it Happen Foundation, the Commercial Appeal noted.