NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Michael Oher, the former NFL tackle known as the inspiration for the movie “The Blind Side,” filed a petition Monday in Tennessee probate court accusing Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of lied to him by having him sign papers making them his conservators rather than his adoptive parents almost two decades ago.
The Tuohys fought back, telling news outlets that the suit was part of a $15 million shakedown of Oher’s family.
In the petition filed Monday in Shelby County Probate Court, Oher asked to end the conservatorship along with asking for a full accounting of the money made from using his name and story. He also asked to pay back what he owed along with interest.
She accused the Tuohys of enriching themselves at her expense by continuing to “falsely and publicly” represent themselves as her adoptive parents “up to the date of the filing of this petition.”
“Oher discovered this lie to his dismay and shame in February of 2023, when he learned that the Conservatorship he had agreed to on the basis that doing so would make him a member of the Tuohy family, had in fact given him none ‘y family to family relationship. Tuohys,” according to the petition.
Oher, who has never been a fan of the movie about his life, also requested in the petition that the Tuohys be sanctioned and must pay the compensatory and punitive damages determined by the court.
Steve Farese, an attorney for the Tuohys, told The Associated Press that they will file a response to the allegations in court but declined to comment further. He was one of three attorneys served on behalf of the Tuohys on Monday.
Leigh Anne Tuohy did not immediately respond to an email sent through her personal website. Her husband told The Daily Memphian that the conservatorship was created to satisfy the NCAA as Oher considered Tuohy’s alma mater Mississippi for college.
Sean Tuohy said he and his wife will end the conservatorship if that’s what Oher wants.
“We were devastated,” Tuohy said. “It’s annoying to think that any of our children will make money. But we will love Michael at 37 as much as we loved him at 16.
The movie was nominated for an Oscar, and Sandra Bullock won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy.
Oher accused the Tuohys of never taking legal action to get custody from the Tennessee Department of Human Services before she turned 18.
He moved in with the Tuohys before his senior year of high school and said he was told to call them “Mom” and “Dad.” Oher said in the petition he was encouraged to call the attorney who filed the conservatorship papers, “Aunt Debbie” Branan.
Oher also alleged that the Tuohys had her sign papers almost immediately after she moved in as part of the adoption process. Oher said she was “falsely advised” to call it a conservatorship because she is 18 but the intention is to adopt.
“At no point did the Tuohys inform Michael that they had full control over all of his contracts, and as a result Michael did not understand that when the Conservatorship was granted, he was signing away his right to contract for himself, ” according to the petition.
A book based on Oher’s life was released in September 2006. The author, Michael Lewis, is described in the petition as a childhood friend of Sean Tuohy. The petition says Oher’s conservators have begun contract negotiations for the film rights.
The petition says an agreement was reached to pay the Tuohys, including children Sean Jr. and Collins, $225,000 plus 2.5% of future defined net income contingent on Oher’s signature. A contract titled “Life Story Rights Agreement” was “purportedly signed by Michael Oher” and dated April 20, 2007, according to the petition.
The petition states that Oher believed the signature to be his but that he “at no time willingly or knowingly signed this document and that no one presented this contract to him with any explain that he signed that document.”
In the petition, Oher asked for a full accounting of his assets and how they were used considering his life story has produced millions of dollars and he has not received anything for the rights to something that wouldn’t have existed without him.
Oher was the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Mississippi, and he spent his first five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He ended up playing eight seasons in the NFL, including 2014 when he started 11 games for the Tennessee Titans. Oher finished his career in two years at Carolina.
He started 110 games and won a Super Bowl with the Ravens. He also finished second in voting to Minnesota’s Percy Harvin for The Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after starting all 16 games in his first season at right tackle.
Oher, who turned 37 in May, last played in 2016. He was released in 2017 by Carolina.
Nearly two years ago, supporters rejoiced when Britney Spears was released from her conservatory. The decision comes after Spears publicly demanded an end to the arrangement, which has prevented her from making her own medical, financial and personal decisions since 2008.
Spears’ high-profile battle has put a spotlight on efforts that advocates across the United States have launched, questioning whether such strict controls would result in more harm than protection.
Photo: Oher in 2010, while he was with the Ravens. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
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