AceShowbiz - Director Ava DuVernay is facing legal action from the company credited with creating a famous police interrogation technique mentioned unfavourably on her acclaimed miniseries "When They See Us".
Bosses at John E. Reid and Associates claim they were defamed in an episode of the drama over mention of the Reid Technique, which their company created in the late 1940s to aid law enforcement.
The technique is mentioned in the fourth episode of "When They See Us", as a character confronts detective Michael Sheehan with allegations he forced a false confession out of five teenagers, who in real-life were wrongfully convicted of raping a woman in Central Park, New York in 1989.
The five teens, who became known as the Central Park Five, spent six to 13 years in prison before a serial rapist confessed to the crime.
They were later exonerated.
"You squeezed statements out of them after 42 hours of questioning and coercing, without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision," the character states, adding, "The Reid Technique has been universally rejected."
The lawsuit suggests the dialogue mischaracterises the Reid Technique, which does not involve coercion. Reid & Associates' lawyers also claim it is incorrect and damaging to assert that the technique has been "universally rejected."
"Defendants intended to incite an audience reaction against Reid for what occurred in the Central Park Jogger Case and for the coercive interrogation tactics that continue to be used today," the suit reads. "Defendants published the statements in When They See Us in an effort to cause a condemnation of the Reid Technique."
The lawyers allege the series has damaged the company's reputation.
The plaintiffs are seeking actual and punitive damages and an injunction barring Netflix bosses from distributing the series in its current form.