Judge Allows Juveniles’ Lawsuit Against ‘Empire’ For Filming at their Jail

Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon in "Empire" (FOX)

*On Thursday, an Illinois federal judge refused to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit against Fox drama “Empire” over the way it took over Chicago’s Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center to film several episodes.

As previously reported, two minors, through their legal guardians, filed a 12-count complaint in August 2016 on behalf of themselves and other youth in the facility alleging that officials at the detention center put them on lockdown so it could be used to film the episodes.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, the plaintiffs say were ordered into “pod” areas at the detention center and sat there for days on end, depriving them of their normal school, the recreation yard, the library, the infirmary and the chapel. During this time, their sick requests were allegedly ignored and their family visits were eliminated.

The kids say some of those who were incarcerated had entered the jail having been diagnosed with a mental disorder and that the lockdowns were psychologically damaging. As for their claims that due process rights were denied, they allege the lockdowns weren’t rationally related to a legitimate non-punitive purpose.

U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve writes in an opinion that the plaintiffs have “plausibly stated” a claim. She adds, “In fact, Plaintiffs’ allegations regarding the denial of access to the infirmary and the rejected sick-call requests — alone — state an actionable claim.”

The judge, however, had doubts about Fox being named a co-defendant. St. Eve wrote that the plaintiffs “have failed to sufficiently allege that the Fox Defendants and any of the state actor/government Defendants reached an understanding to deny the juvenile detainees’ constitutional rights” and also isn’t impressed by many of the liability theories put forth including a conspiracy or a “respondeat superior” posit that officials were acting as Fox agents.

Nevertheless, she is allowing the plaintiffs to try again against Fox, particularly in regard to a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The judge also notes in a footnote the possibility of claims based on indemnification.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s