The couple featured in The Blind Side, after supposedly adopting former NFL player Michael Oher when he was a teenager, says they will end their conservatorship of Oher after he filed a lawsuit alleging they tricked him out of millions of dollars.
Oher, 37, filed the petition in Tennessee probate court on Monday, saying Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy led him to believe they were adopting him, when instead they duped him into signing documents making them his conservators.
Amid fallout from the lawsuit, the couple’s attorneys Randall Fishman and Steven Farese held a news conference on Wednesday, Aug. 16, in Memphis, announcing the couple plans to terminate the conservatorship.
“Forty-eight hours ago, a bomb dropped on our clients,” Fishman said about the lawsuit. “To say they were devastated by these allegations is truly an understatement.”
The attorneys insisted the Tuohy did not benefit financially from placing Oher in a conservatorship and “treated him like a son.”
“They don’t need his money. They never needed his money. Mr. Tuohy sold his company for $220 million,” Farese said. The family’s website says they are “extremely successful” fast food chain franchise owners.
Oher said in the lawsuit he signed the conservatorship documents presented by the Tuohys in 2004, shortly after he turned 18. Oher says he thought the papers were for him to be adopted and only found out he’s in a conservatorship in February of this year.
Fishman told reporters Oher is lying, adding that he previously wrote a book, admitting in print that there was a conservatorship in place.
“This conservatorship was set up for the purpose that I indicated earlier – so that if he chose to go to Ole Miss, it would not be an issue about Sean being a booster. And that was the sole reason,” said Fishman.
Farese said the Tuohys did not control Oher’s earnings from the NFL because he hired his own agents and signed his own contract when he entered the league.
“He’s negotiated his own contract with the NFL. He’s hired and fired his agents,” Fishman claimed. “The Tuohys have never had to sign off on any of that. He’s done that all himself.”
The Blind Side starred Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne, Tim McGraw as Sean, and Quinton Aaron as Oher, and made $309 million at the worldwide box office. The lawsuit says Leigh Anne, Sean and their two birth children each received $225,000 — plus 2.5 percent of the film’s “net proceeds.” Oher claims he did not receive any money from the film.
The Tuohys’ attorneys said Wednesday each of the five family members, including Oher, received an estimated $100,000 from the film.
“Michael got every dime, every dime he had coming,” Fishman stated.
The attorneys also said Oher has been estranged from the family for about 10 years and they alleged he recently became “more threatening.”