'Hurt Locker' makers sued by Army bomb disposal expert

Hurt-LockerA U.S. Army bomb disposal expert has filed a lawsuit against the makers of the Oscar-nominated movie The Hurt Locker, claiming that screenwriter and producer Mark Boal based the movie’s main character, Will James, on him. Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in a U.S. District court in New Jersey on Tuesday, alleging that “The Hurt Locker motion picture and DVD are nothing more than an exploitation of a real life honorable, courageous, long serving member of our armed forces, by greedy multi-billion dollar ‘entertainment’ corporations.” Among those named in the suit are Boal, director Kathryn Bigelow, distributor Summit Entertainment.

At a news conference today, Sarver’s lawyer said that the article Boal wrote about Sarver for Playboy in 2005 was later adapted for the scribe’s Hurt Locker screenplay and that situations in the movie labeled as fiction were accounts from Sarver’s real-life experiences in the field. Sarver also claims that he coined the phrase “The Hurt Locker” for Boal.

In a statement responding to the suit, Summit said, “We have no doubt that Master Sgt. Sarver served his country with honor and commitment risking his life for a greater good, but we distributed the film based on a fictional screenplay written by Mark Boal. We hope for a quick resolution to the claims made by Master Sgt. Sarver.”

The lawsuit, filed the same week as the Oscars, comes one day after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences denied Hurt Locker producer Nicolas Chartier entry to the show, ruling that an email he sent encouraging people to vote for his film, and disparaging fellow Best Picture contender Avatar, violated the Academy’s strict campaigning rules.


Comments (94 total) Add your comment
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  • Jackie Childs

    I’ll be representing the Smurfs in a class action suit against Avatar. Who wants in?

    • JBD

      Classic…I do!

    • Tony Vong

      All brown excrement need legal representation against “The Hurt Locker”.

    • awesome

      I’ll be representing the rest of the army in a class action suit against the Hurt Locker. Oh wait a second- that doesn’t make sense.

    • labrat

      Will you be representing The Thundercats as well?

      • Adam…HOOOOOOO!

        As soon as I sue them because I coined the phrase “HOOOOOOO” after saying my name.

  • Jackie Chiles – take 2

    I’ll be representing the Smurfs in a class action suit against Avatar. Who wants in?

  • dom

    The Smurfs will have to get in line behind Costner.

    • Avatards UNITE!!

      Oh, no you didn’t dom. Don’t play the Dances with Wolves card this early in the day……

      • Jorge

        Costner will have to get in line behind the writers of Fern Gully.

      • fruppet

        haven’t seen it but isn’t the Hurt Locker essentially a post-modern realist neo-political take on Fraggle Rock?

  • Marcus Johnson

    As a veteran of the Iraq War, this is really embarrassing. It was bad enough that people started nitpicking over factual inconsistencies in a fictional storyline, but when soldiers decide to exploit their war experience like this, it demeans us all. Couldn’t the guy have just written a damn tell-all memoir like other war vets have done? At the very least, he would have the opportunity to educate the world on his war experience.

    • joe

      you are forgetting the american way of life: sue anybody for anything and get rich

      • hc

        It seems pretty unlikely that anyone got rich off this movie – what was the domestic gross? Something under $20 million? Give the guy his share after production and marketing costs – I’m sure it amount to under a mil.

  • Angela

    Fun Fact: the attorney representing Master Sgt. Sarver is Geoffrey Fieger, the brother of late front man for The Knacks, Doug Fieger.

    • Donna

      Angela, that’s your idea of a “fun fact”? Here are fun facts, Angela: you weigh between 220-230 lbs.; you live with 3 cats; and you have never been kissed.

      • l.d.

        Oh, Donna. Donna, Donna, Donna. Obviously you are the fat virgin. You were pretty quick to mock there. How are your kitties doing?

      • MsDaisy

        That really wasn’t necessary. Here’s a fun fact for you: you are a miserable, petty human being.

      • Donna

        Don’t hate the messenger, people. I’m just joking with “Angela.” I don’t her, obviously, so I was just joshing with her.

      • Helderman

        I thought that was a fun fact thanks for a positive comment. And no thank Donna for being a meany. Get a life.

      • Ann

        Donna, that’s not very nice at all. I have to assume by the way you just spoke to Angela, that you’re bitter that you’re husband ran off with a woman named Angela and now you spout vitrol to women of the same name because of your unbearable unhappiness.

      • Donna

        People, I AM SORRY FOR JOKING! Jeesh.

      • dlauthor

        It was satire, people! Satire!

      • Jon

        Donna, it’s hard to imagine it’s a joke when it’s not at all funny. Imagine if someone you didn’t know walked up to you in the street and threw a bunch of insults at you. Does that sound funny? Maybe in your world, but not in most.

      • Rick

        I thought it was funny.

      • chris

        Ladies and Gentlemen and the D***head of the day award goes to. … Oh my God it’s Donna!

      • hwall

        Well played Donna… Keep up the snark.

      • TK-421

        I.D……Just because Angela has never been kissed doesn’t make her a virgin.

      • Nshi

        Donna, I like you. We should be friends.

      • Stevex

        Yes Donna, I would like that Happy Meal ‘to go’. Thanks.

      • rerun

        I love non-funny jokes. Way to go Donna!

      • Angela

        Actually, Donna, I’m more of a dog person. But 2/3 isn’t so bad.

      • oompa


      • Donna is cool

        lmao donna right on

  • Ron J

    Wow, what INTERESTING timing… No suit filed when the movie came out in theaters, but now that there is a considerable amount of hype on the film and a possibly handful of Academy Awards in the picture, somebody wants a piece of the pie. I respect any soldiers service and commitment to our country, but have little respect for this person as a human being. Lame.

    • GGG

      Well, the movie was an indie film. Perhaps he hadn’t heard of it?? I get that people in this country are quick to sue, but in reading the article, it’s pretty obivous that this movie was inspired by this person. Of course he’s due some of the profits.

      • Pabst

        Pretty obvious? They give no details whatsoever that are common from the mans account and the movie. Maybe his life is a mirror image of the movie, but right now he just looks like a greedy opportunist.

        But perhaps that is harsh. We tend to pay our soldiers absolute sh*t. I’d want credit where it was due after going to war.

    • BG

      They’ve been working on the lawsuit for more than 6 months, as it takes time to get all the legal documents and facts together. These documents are available for some review, and it’s obvious from account from not only the soldier in question but his unit that a mass majority of this film is based on the soldier.

      • BG

        Though claiming he coined the “hurt locker” is far-fetched.

  • mishka

    Lols, it’s definitely a though way that leads to the Oscar for Best Picture…Avatar FTW !

    • dlauthor

      Et maintenant, en anglais.

      • mishka

        If it’s too difficult for you to understand, take some english classes, dear.

      • rerun

        Mishka dear, please read your posting again. I’m not sure where that’s considered a proper sentence. At least your probably pretty though, so you have that going for you.

      • mishka

        I’m pretty… sure you have more interesting things to do instead of checking my grammar. If not, get a life. Dear.

      • mishka’s lover

        let me tell you. English is not mishka’s strong suit (bonus!). But she’s a tiger in bed.

    • Jorge

      Mishka, way to tell someone speaking French to take some English classes and then ignore when someone else points out you need them too! So get a life. Dear.

      • mishka

        In fact, French is my first language as well and dlauthor is the only one who got it right. Now get a life. All of us.

    • La

      Without even bringing grammar into it, I have no idea what “definitely a though way” means.

      • mishka

        Okay, I finally figured it out ! I meant “tough” i/o of “though”. Hope it makes more sense now :)

  • Captain Canuck

    Hasn’t this movie been out for like 9 months? Just now he realized it was his life the ripped off?

    • davey

      It actually made it’s rounds at the festivals in 2008 – so, it’s been out for more than 2 years now! Nice timing there Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver…or whatever your real name is!

      • bet0001970

        Yes. And I’m sure that in between tours in the sandbox and bomb training here at home, Sarver has been diligently keeping up with all of the “Indy Film Festivals” in the hopes that he could score him some bank off an unsuspecting, poor, Hollywood film-maker.

        Yeah, that’s completely plausible. Or maybe he heard about the film, like most everyone else, when it came up for all of those Oscar nominations.


      • BG

        The lawsuit has been in the works for over 6 months, and was just finally filed. Sometimes it takes that long to create a legitimate case.

  • JD

    The term “hurt locker” was being used by Marines during Desert Storm. I he really claiming the he coined that phrase?

    • RyanK

      The usage of the term “Hurt Locker” has ABSOLUTELY ZERO legal precedent. The phrase “Hurt Locker” has been used for quite a while now and simply because Boal might have first heard it from Sarver doesn’t mean it’s Sarver’s intellectual property. That’s absurd.

    • Al Gore

      I know how you feel Master Sgt. Sarver. I invented the Internet and never got credit for it.

      • ketchikan9

        Sorry, Al, but HEY, you got credit for global warming.

  • Bill

    The phrase “hurt locker” is old, there was a popular local band around here named that 25 years ago (though I don’t doubt it’s military in origin). Might even be Viet Nam era or earlier.

    • Ed

      My brother was in a band in the early 80’s called “Hurt Locker”. He told me at the time that he’d heard it was Army slang for ambulance.

  • Kevin

    Good for him. Sounds like he might actually get paid something respectable for all the hard work he did for our country.

    • des

      Wrong way to do it though, Kev. This is sleazy … just a bad, if not worse than the writer. How proud he must have been when the original article appeared in Playboy. Did the soldier’s contract he signed to allow the story in Playboy say the story was limited ONLY to be published in Playboy or did the contract give the rights to tell the story to the author … period? I agree soldiers should receive a LOT better compensation for their committment and sacrifice, but suing over something like this is NOT honorable. And claiming he invented the phrase “hurt locker” is like Al Gore saying he invented the internet.

      • GGG

        Al Gore didn’t actually say that he invented the internet. What’s sleazy about having a person write a movie script about you, without your permission and then make money off of it?

      • Al Gore

        I’m Al Gore… and I invented the internet. there… I’ve said it.

    • Stevex

      Oh really? Does ‘hire a publicity-ho lawyer to file a frivolous lawsuit’ fit under the umbrella of Be All You Can Be?

    • Will

      By filing a frivolous lawsuit?

      That is no way respectable

    • Marcus Johnson

      Sorry, but by filing a frivolous lawsuit, he morphed from a respectable war hero to a money whore.

  • Jackson

    Hehe, excellent! Actually, they should be sued for making a bad movie that’s an inauthentic portrayal of an EOD team in Iraq. That’s the real crime.

    • RyanK

      So are you going to see Green Zone this weekend, Jackson? I won’t argue you’re opinion of The Hurt Locker (although I will question your judgment), but the fact is that despite its few inaccuracies, The Hurt Locker is still significantly more accurate than any other movie we’ve seen about our current war, with maybe the one exception of Generation Kill.

      • Jackson

        No, Green Zone actually doesn’t interest me.

        And anyway, that’s not even my main problem with The Hurt Locker. I just think it’s a really basic, average movie that never overcomes its poor character development and string-of-scenes-cobbled-together narrative. It does absolutely nothing for me except evoke boredom. If you’re going to make a 2 hour movie about how “war is a drug,” I’d like it if you showed me in a more interesting, varied way.

      • RyanK

        The Green Zone thing was sarcasm, lol. I was pointing out the lack of realism in most war movies to this date. At least Bigelow used mostly legit explosions instead of gasoline bombs.

  • Kevin

    Haha, I like Donna’s fun fact because its probably true.

  • TK-421

    Fun Fact… I in fact coined the term “Hurt Locker”

  • desadiste

    Typically contributors get fees for being consultants to film. This guy’s case has merit if he can prove his accounts were used and there is legal justification for compensation. It is fair to give him his argument a review in court. As for the comments I read here, it sounds like some folks need to get out and do something more worthwhile…like take a try at bomb disposal, perhaps?

    • RyanK

      Well that’s true, if the story is based on his accounts, but from everything Mark Boal has said before, most of the movie was inspired by his own actual experiences while embedded, not from stories told to him.

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