Court dismisses suit by man in "Borat" film

Wed Apr 2, 2008 8:09pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A lawsuit filed by a man seen running away from comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in his hit "Borat" film was dismissed by a federal judge on Wednesday.

Jeffrey Lemerond, who appeared in the trailer and a 13-second clip in "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," sued 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp., in federal court in Manhattan in June.

Lemerond claimed the filmmakers unlawfully used his image after he was seen in the movie on New York's streets running from the fictional Kazakh television reporter, "fleeing in apparent terror, screaming for Mr. Cohen to 'go away,"' court documents said.

But U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska said the film fell under a broad exception to that claim because it was "newsworthy." She said while the film appealed "to the most childish and vulgar in its viewers," it attempted "an ironic commentary of 'modern' American culture."

Lemerond's claim was one of several suits filed by people who complained they were duped into appearing in the fake documentary.

Two residents of the southern Romanian village that served as Borat's "hometown" in the film had filed a $30 million lawsuit, which was also dismissed on Wednesday.

Nicolae Todorache, a one-armed grandfather, and Spiridom Ciorebea claimed the film wrongly depicted them and others from the village of Glod as rapists, abortionists, prostitutes and thieves. They failed to file papers in the case on time.

Last year, a Los Angeles judge also threw out a lawsuit filed by two college fraternity members shown in the film guzzling alcohol and making racist remarks.


<p>Actor Sacha Baron Cohen, in character as a Kazakh TV reporter known as 'Borat', holds a baby kangaroo in Sydney November 13, 2006 during the Australian premiere of his film "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan". REUTERS/David Gray</p>