The Tuohy family intends to enter a consent order to end their conservatorship for former NFL offensive lineman Michael Oher, their lawyer told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
Oher had been seeking to end the conservatorship, which has been in place since they brought him into their home when he was 18, while claiming the family made millions off his name through the movie "The Blind Side."
Oher reportedly accused the Tuohys of lying to him while having him sign papers to make them his conservators rather than his adoptive parents in a petition filed Monday in Tennessee. He reportedly requested a full accounting of the assets tied to his name, claiming he received nothing from a movie based on his story that made more than $300 million at the box office.
The Tuohys' lawyers, however, claimed Oher already knew he wasn't adopted, noting that he described the couple as his conservators three times in his 2011 book “I Beat The Odds: From Homeless, To The Blind Side,” and that he has been estranged from the family for more than a decade. One of the lawyers, Steve Farese, claimed Oher has become “more and more vocal and more and more threatening” since the estrangement, saying it is “devastating for the family.”
How Tuohy family has responded to Michael Oher's allegations
Ending the conservatorship is the latest reaction from a family whose public image, built up by a movie widely derided as being a classic "white savior" story, has been shattered by Oher's lawsuit, though Oher himself had said for years he didn't like the movie.
A day earlier, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy released a statement co-authored with their legal team calling Oher's claims “outlandish” and “transparently ridiculous." They also claimed that Oher had gone through "numerous other lawyers" that stopped representing him once they saw the evidence, but also that he filed his lawsuit only to draw attention to his book tour.
Oher, they said, recently refused to cash small profit checks from the family, which had continued to deposit his equal share into a trust account set up for his son. Instead, they alleged he requested $15 million or he would plant a negative news story about him.
They painted the whole thing as a "shakedown," but said they are willing to reconcile.
In an interview with the Daily Memphian, Sean claimed each person in the family, including Oher, received only $14,000 from the Michael Lewis book and said, “We were never offered money; we never asked for money. My money is well-documented; you can look up how much I sold my company for … The last thing I needed was $40,000 from a movie."
Meanwhile, the family's son, Sean Jr., estimated that he has received $60,000 to $70,000 “over the course of the last four or five years” from the movie in a separate interview.
Michael Lewis addresses Michael Oher allegations
Lewis, the popular financial author who brought Oher's story to the larger public, addressed the lawsuit as well, telling The Washington Post that no one outside Hollywood made any real money off the movie:
“Everybody should be mad at the Hollywood studio system,” Lewis said. “Michael Oher should join the writers strike. It’s outrageous how Hollywood accounting works, but the money is not in the Tuohys’ pockets.”
Lewis reportedly claimed Twentieth Century Fox paid $250,000 for the option to make "The Blind Side" into a movie, which he split 50-50 with the Tuohy family, who themselves said the money was split evenly in a way that included Oher. However, Fox didn't make the movie. Instead, Alcon Entertainment, a smaller production company reportedly backed by Tuohy’s neighbor, FedEx CEO Fred Smith, stepped in.
The movie made hundreds of millions of dollars, but Lewis claimed his and the Tuohys' share of net profits came out to around $350,000 each, with the Tuohys splitting the royalties among family members and Oher. Lewis also said Oher called him to ask about a speaking tour to make money discussing the book.
Lewis expressed pity for Oher:
“What I feel really sad about is I watched the whole thing up close,” Lewis said. “They showered him with resources and love. That he’s suspicious of them is breathtaking. The state of mind one has to be in to do that — I feel sad for him.”
It should be noted that Lewis became aware of Oher's story because he was a childhood friend of Sean Tuohy.