Legal agreement ends in “blind side” case | ET REALITY


A probate judge in Memphis on Friday ended an unusual legal settlement between Michael Oher, a former National Football League player and star of the hit movie “The Blind Side,” and the people who took him in when he was a teenager. which had given them broad authority over Mr. Oher’s affairs.

Oher, 37, filed a petition in August to end the nearly 20-year guardianship, claiming he had been tricked into giving up his decision-making powers under the pretext that he would be adopted. The petition claimed that Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy, with whom Mr. Oher began staying when he was 16, were given power of attorney and access to his medical records, and that he could not be bound to any contracts without their approval.

The judge’s action was largely expected; The Tuohys had said at the time the petition was filed that they were happy to see the conservatorship end.

Based on the book by Michael Lewis, “The Blind Side” is one of the most popular and highest-grossing sports films in American history, grossing more than $300 million upon its release in 2009 and earning Sandra Bullock an Academy Award for her portrayal of Mrs. Tuohy. But he has also been criticized for perpetuating stereotypes about black athletes like Oher needing help from wealthy white benefactors like the Tuohys.

Mr. Oher is also seeking money he said he should have made from the film, a court order preventing the Tuohys from using his name and likeness, and an accounting of all the times the Tuohys got rich from “the “Michael’s adoption lie.” ”the petition said.

The judge did not dismiss the case. The deputy clerk of court said no date had been set for another hearing.

Mr. Oher’s lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the Tuohys did not respond to a request for comment.

The Tuohys have denied any wrongdoing. They have said they filed for guardianship only so Oher could attend his alma mater, the University of Mississippi, to play football. The goal, they said, was to appease the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which had become suspicious of the fact that the Tuohys were prominent boosters of the school and had taken in Mr. Oher.

In a Sept. 14 legal filing, the Tuohys said they had never intended to legally adopt Mr. Oher and never told him they would adopt him. However, in a book they wrote in 2010, the Tuohys refer to adopting Mr. Oher, and have publicly referred to him as their adopted son.

The guardianship was created under unusual circumstances. It was granted even though Mr. Oher was determined to have “no known physical or psychological disability.” In Tennessee, a guardianship is designed to protect a person “with a disability who lacks decision-making capacity in one or more important areas.”

On Friday, Memphis Judge Kathleen Gomes said she couldn’t “believe it was done” and had never seen a conservatorship granted under such circumstances.

The judge in the original motion for the settlement, Robert Benham, told the New York Times last month that he questioned the idea that a conservatorship could be granted only in such circumstances. But he said he ultimately granted the guardianship because there was no opposition to the agreement from people at the hearing, including the Tuohys, Mr. Oher, the attorney who filed the petition, and Denise Oher, Michael’s mother.

Ms. Oher said in a recent interview that she did not remember a guardianship being discussed at the hearing. She said she thought she was present only to approve the name change for Michael, whose birth name was Williams.

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