Former NFL player Michael Oher, whose life story inspired the Oscar-winning movie “The Blind Side,” has filed a petition alleging that the Tuohy family, portrayed as his adoptive parents in the film, never actually adopted him. Oher, now 37, claims that shortly after he turned 18 in 2004, the Tuohys misled him into signing a document that made them his conservators, granting them control over his financial decisions.
In the petition filed in Shelby County, Tennessee, Oher asserts that the Tuohys utilized their conservatorship to amass substantial profits from the book and movie adaptation of his life story. He contends that despite being the driving force behind the narrative, he received no compensation for it. The Tuohys’ public association of Oher as their adopted son has been used to promote their foundation, motivational books, and speaking engagements.
Oher’s legal petition calls for an end to the conservatorship, a prohibition on the Tuohys using his name and likeness, and a full financial accounting of the earnings they accrued from his story. He demands his rightful share of the profits, along with compensatory and punitive damages.
The Tuohys, through their attorney, have indicated they plan to respond to Oher’s claims. They previously stated that they did not make money directly from the film but did earn income from the book. The family expressed their continued affection for Oher and their intent to support him, regardless of the legal dispute.
Sean Touhy told the Daily Memphian that the family “didn’t make any money off the movie” but did make money from the book it was based on, written by Michael Lewis.
“We’re devastated,” Sean told the outlet. “It’s upsetting to think we would make money off any of our children. But we’re going to love Michael at 37 just like we loved him at 16.”
Oher’s legal filing points out that he signed the conservatorship papers while he was still a high school senior. He recalls that the Tuohys explained conservatorship to him as being similar to adoption, although it did not grant him full membership in their family or allow him independent financial decision-making.
“Since at least August of 2004, Conservators have allowed Michael, specifically, and the public, generally, to believe that Conservators adopted Michael and have used that untruth to gain financial advantages for themselves and the foundations which they own or which they exercise control,” the petition says, according to ESPN. “All monies made in said manner should in all conscience and equity be disgorged and paid over to the said ward, Michael Oher.”
Oher alleges that the Tuohys and their biological children received substantial compensation from the film, including a flat fee and a percentage of its proceeds. Despite the Tuohys’ prior assertions of sharing those earnings with Oher, he claims to have never received any of the money.