UPDATED with Netflix filing motion to dismiss: The two partners behind now-dissolved Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co have filed a libel and trademark infringement lawsuit against Netflix over The Laundromat, the streamer’s Panama Papers movie directed by Steven Soderbergh. They also filed a temporary restraining order to halt the release of the movie.
Netflix on Thursday responded by filing a motion to dismiss.
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The complaint, made in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, seeks damages and injunctive relief. According to the suit (read it here), the firm is claiming Netflix’s film “defames and portrays the Plaintiffs as ruthless uncaring lawyers who are involved in money laundering, tax evasion, bribery and/or other criminal conduct.”
“The implications and innuendo converge to cast Plaintiffs in the light of mastermind criminals whose crimes include, but are not limited to, murder, bribery, money laundering and/or corruption. Defendant’s trailer and movie have clearly defamed the Plaintiffs and cast them in the false light of criminality,” read the suit, which was filed earlier this week.
The plaintiffs also are seeking a temporary restraining order to stop Netflix from showing or streaming The Laundromat without disclaimers. The film, which premiered at Venice and also played Toronto, is set to launch around the world on the platform October 18 and already had an awards-qualifying theatrical run last month.
Netflix on Thursday filed its motion to dismiss the case, “or in the alternative, to transfer venue to
the United States District Court for the Central District of California.” It said it will also soon separately file its opposition to plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.
Mossack Fonseca & Co, which specialized in offshore financial services, closed down last March due to the economic and reputational damage caused by the disclosure of its role in widespread global tax evasion.
Pic stars Meryl Streep and Sharon Stone in the story of a widow investigating legal fraud by chasing down the lawyers behind Mossack Fonseca & Co. Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas play Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, the two partners behind the controversial firm.
The Panama Papers was one of the biggest data leaks in history. In 2015, an anonymous whistleblower leaked some 11.5 million documents from Mossack Fonseca to the press, disclosing financial information relating to the tax activities of a multitude of wealthy individuals and public officials.