A Connecticut federal court judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed against Netflix over the movie “The Laundromat” should not be heard here, but in Los Angeles.
The judge’s declining to hear the suit means that “The Laundromat” will begin streaming on Netflix today as originally planned.
“This lawsuit was a frivolous legal stunt designed to censor creative expression,” Netflix said in a statement. “Steven Soderbergh’s film tells an important story about the exploitation of innocent people and the misuse of the world’s financial system. Fortunately, you can now watch ‘The Laundromat’ — the film that Mossack and Fonseca tried to censor — on Netflix.”
The movie’s cast includes Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas as real-life attorneys Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, central figures in the Panama Papers scandal.
Earlier this week, Stamford attorney Stephan Seeger filed the suit in Connecticut federal court, maintaining that the pair are unfairly portrayed as villains.
Netflix argues that the pair’s reputations were “long sullied” before the movie’s release – Mossack and Fonseca are under federal indictment – and that while their real names are used in “The Laundromat,” they are “palpably farcical characters …. cartoonish narrators who set up shell corporations around the world; (the film) does not depict them as direct participants in criminal activity.”
Marketed as a black comedy, “The Laundromat” is a “comedic morality tale about a system which invites and protects abuse,” Netflix said. “While entertaining and largely comedic, it is intended to bring attention to the abuse of offshore shell corporations and tax shelters, and it is an indictment of the legal system that permits them.”
In its filing, the company said the lawsuit is a “virtually unheard-of prior restraint on speech” and should be denied.