Hustlers is the film that might get Jennifer Lopez her first Oscars nod. It also might be the film that loses her production company $40 million.
In the rags-to-riches (and then to prison) movie, Lopez plays Ramona, a character created off the back of a 2015 New York magazine feature about strippers who allegedly drugged men and then stole thousands from their credit cards. Now, the real woman behind the story, Samantha Barbash, is suing Lopez’s production company, claiming Nuyorican Productions used her likeness without her permission and defamed her in the film.
According to TMZ, Barbash alleges she was asked for her consent to use her story for the film, but she did not give it. Her lawyer, Bruno V Gioffre Jr, told Rolling Stone that the defendants tried to “trick her into selling her rights” for $6,000 for the film, which ultimately made over $150 million.
In the lawsuit, Barbash says one particular scene in which she is depicted “using and manufacturing illegal substances in her home where she lived with her child” is false and offensive. The lawsuit accuses the portrayal of Ramona as “grossly irresponsible”.
Barbash is seeking $20 million in punitive damages and $20 million in compensatory and she wants the company to turn over every copy of the movie.
Lopez, who got a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the film which she also produced, is yet to comment on the claims.