We first reported on this story back in March 2019 when the estate of John McLemore dropped a lawsuit on Serial Productions. McLemore was the subject of the wildly popular podcast S-Town.
The host and producer of S-Town Brian Reed was contacted by McLemore in 2012. McLemore claimed there was an unsolved murder in Woodstock, Alabama and he wanted to tell Reed all the details. Reed found that claim to be untrue and the podcast turned into a show about McLemore’s fascinating life.
McLemore killed himself in 2015 by drinking cyanide as Reed was working on the podcast. That’s reported early on in the series. Reed finds out during a recorded phone call played back during the podcast. Reed researched and reported on Mclemore’s life in Bibb County, AL and finds out that McLemore was gay and had mental health issues. Apparently McLemore had asked that those two issues be kept off the podcast and now McLemore’s estate is asking for profits from the podcast and compensatory damages.
Serial Productions tried to have the lawsuit dismissed based on the First Amendment claiming the show was a work of journalism. U.S District Court Judge Scott Coogler denied that request.
McLemore’s estate claims the podcast violates the state of Alabama’s right of publicity, which makes it illegal to use someone’s name and image without their consent for up to 55 years after their death.
News 19 in Alabama is reporting that judge Coogler wants both sides to try to settle the case in mediation. A mediator has been chosen. Coogler says if the two sides cannot come to an agreement, a trial will be held in January 2021.
S-Town has been downloaded over 92 million times.