Iraq War vet ordered to pay massive legal fees in failed Hurt Locker lawsuit

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You may or may not recall the lawsuit filed by Iraq War veteran Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver just days before the 2010 Academy Awards: Sarver had sued Kathryn Bigelow, director of The Hurt Locker, as well as screenwriter Mark Boal, the Hurt Locker producing team, and distributor Summit Entertainment, claiming that Jeremy Renner's character in the film was inaccurately based on Sarver's time spent as a bomb-disposal expert.

The Hurt Locker, of course, went on to win a Best Picture Oscar, and Boal, who had embedded with Sarver's unit for a Playboy article, denied Sarver's accusations, saying the story was neither based on Sarver, nor any one soldier. The filmmakers would go on to file an anti-SLAPP motion (strategic lawsuit against public participation), seeking dismissal for stifling free speech. And indeed, on October 13, U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen threw out the case.

Now, thanks to California tort law, Sarver is on the hook for $187,000 in legal fees, owing Boal and Bigelow $38,000, the producing team $90,000, and $59,000 to Summit. It's a sad, morally complicated story, because regardless of whether you're pro or con the Iraq War, Sarver did honorably serve his country, doing a job on a danger scale commensurate with commercial fishing, or working as J. Lo's hairdresser. He has said that he will appeal the decision.