By Hayden Wright
Former NWA manager Jerry Heller was so displeased with his portrayal in Straight Outta Compton that he brought a defamation suit against the film’s producers, including Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. That lawsuit was moving along until Heller’s sudden death in September, throwing the fate of future litigation into question.
Heller’s defamation claim charges that the movie depicts him encouraging a young, naive artist not to hire an attorney to advise with negotiation. When he filed the suit in October 2015, a raft of other alleged misrepresentations were included in the claim. In June of this year, a judge ruled that only the negotiation-without-representation plot point could move forward for further consideration by the courts.
Heller, 75, died last month when he suffered a heart attack behind the wheel of his car, causing a crash. Without a living plaintiff, his estate will need to name a successor-in-interest to pursue the legal case. Heller’s attorney Michael Shapiro requested a stay through October 20 to line up such a successor and move the complaint ahead.
Before Heller’s death, a new issue was raised in the lawsuit: His team claimed that part of Straight Outta Compton‘s defense team had an unspecified conflict of interest. The former manager’s August deposition was canceled until that conflict could be resolved. Shapiro could file a motion to disqualify those members of the defense team, but it remains to be seen whether he will — or if the suit will continue at all.