Netflix sued by real-life subject of legal drama ‘When They See Us’

Netflix have called Linda Farstein's claims "frivolous" and "without merit" in a statement

Netflix is being sued by one of the real-life subjects of their legal drama mini-series When They See Us.

The four-part drama released last year is based on the real-life story of five African American teenagers who were falsely convicted in 1990 of raping a woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989.

Now, as reported by Variety, Linda Farstein has filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix and the show’s producer Ava Duvernay over the show’s depiction of her.


“Throughout the film series, Ms Fairstein is portrayed as making statements that she never said, taking actions that she did not take — many of them racist and unethical, if not unlawful — in places that she never was on the days and times depicted,” the lawsuit states.

“On a number of occasions, Ms Fairstein is portrayed using inflammatory language, referring to young men of colour as ‘thugs’, ‘animals’ and ‘bastards’, that she never used.”

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Farstein’s lawyer Andrew Miltenberg added in a statement that his client believes she was portrayed in a false way in almost every scene of the entire three episodes in which she appeared.

Miltenberg said: “Most glaringly, the film series falsely portrays Ms Fairstein as in charge of the investigation and prosecution of the case against The Five, including the development of the prosecution’s theory of the case. In truth, and as detailed in the lawsuit, Ms Fairstein was responsible for neither aspect of the case.

“Ms Fairstein’s legal action is not intended to re-litigate the guilt or innocence of The Five in the attacks on Ms Meili or the other victims assaulted in Central Park that night.”


Netflix have responded to the claim in a statement, calling it “frivolous” and “without merit”, adding: “We intend to vigorously defend When They See Us and Ava DuVernay and Attica Locke, the incredible team behind the series.”

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