A $50 million lawsuit against major Hollywood filmmakers has been filed by members of the Ramapough Native American tribe for what they believe is a negative representation of their people. The federal suit was filed in New Jersey on Monday against the writers and producers of Out of the Furnace, which stars Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson.
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Members of the tribe live in Ramapo Mountains along the New York-New Jersey border about 25 miles west of New York City.
The main argument in the suit is that some of the "bad" characters in the film have last names that are common among the Ramapough people. Harrelson plays the villain who has the last name DeGroat, common among the tribe. In fact, most of the 17 plaintiffs who filed the suit have the last name DeGroat.
Harrelson's character is the leader of a gang of "inbreds," according to the suit. His people are shown to be poor, drug-addicted and violent and living in the "mountains of New Jersey."
A representative for Relativity Media, which released the film this month, told other news outlets that the company couldn't comment because it hadn't seen or had time to review the suit.
According to Entertainment Weekly: "The plaintiffs, who are mostly from New Jersey and New York, with one from Tennessee, seek punitive and compensatory damages and allege defamation, mental anguish and emotional distress. They say the use of the names along with the geographic location 'make for a ready association between these plaintiffs and the movie.'"
Although he is not part of the actual suit filed, Ramapough Chief Dwaine Perry denounced the film as a "hate crime" when it was first released.