NEW YORK (Reuters) - The creators of the hit film “Borat” were sued again on Tuesday, this time by a driving instructor seen in the comedy admonishing the fake Kazakh reporter for yelling insults at other drivers.
Michael Psenicska was duped into participating in the film after it was described to him as a “documentary about the integration of foreign people into the American way of life,” he said in a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court.
The suit named British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays the title role, One America Productions and the film’s distributor, 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp. It also named Todd Lewis, a representative of One America who is listed in other lawsuits as Todd Lewis Schulman.
Psenicska said he was paid $500 in cash to give Borat a driving lesson. He described the experience as “surreal,” saying Cohen drove erratically down residential streets, drank alcohol and yelled to a female pedestrian he would pay her $10 for “sexy time.”
The lawsuit seeks $400,000 in actual damages and additional punitive damages for misleading Psenicska and for emotional harm he continues to suffer. Psenicska said if he had known the true nature of the film, he never would have participated.
The comedy has grossed $270 million at the box office, plus more than $60 million in DVD sales, the lawsuit said.
Fox said the lawsuit was without merit, calling Psenicska a willing participant who was paid to be in the movie.
“The fact is that Mike Psenicska gave the producers his consent,” the studio said in a statement. “He signed a release and we have an agreement. Now, 2 1/2 years after giving his consent, and more than one year after the movie was released, Mr. Psenicska has decided to file a lawsuit, citing the financial success of the film, in spite of our agreement.”
“Borat” has been sued at least four times already.
In June, a man seen in the film running away from Borat down the streets of New York City sued Fox in federal court in Manhattan.
In February, a judge threw out a lawsuit brought in Los Angeles Superior Court by two college fraternity members shown guzzling alcohol and making racist remarks. They claimed the scenes tarnished their reputations.
Last year, two residents of a Romanian village sued Fox for $30 million, claiming the film wrongly depicted them as rapists, abortionists, prostitutes and thieves. Scenes depicting Borat in Kazakhstan were filmed in Romania.
A South Carolina man also sued over a deleted scene.
Editing by Daniel Trotta and John O'Callaghan