Court denies Netflix request to dismiss lawsuit filed by detective in Making A Murderer

Published: Jan. 3, 2020 at 11:57 AM CST
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A federal court has denied a request by Netflix to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed by a detective featured in the Making A Murderer documentary series about the trial of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey.

During a Dec. 19 hearing in the United States District Court, the Hon. Pamela Pepper denied Netflix, Inc.'s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Andrew Colborn.

The court deferred a ruling on the filmmakers' motion to dismiss the case. Chrome Media LLC, Laura Riciardi and Moira Demos are part of that motion.

In the deferred ruling, the court expressed concern about "the differing versions of the facts" in the motion to dismiss the suit, and Colborn's motion for more time to serve its complaint.

The court says it may need an evidentiary hearing to resolve the disputes, which would be scheduled at a future date. The court would then rule on Chrome, Riciardi and Demos' motion to dismiss.

Colborn's testimony is featured heavily in Making A Murderer. He takes issue with editing of the series. "Pertinent and significant aspects of MAM are not true as represented and are, instead, false and defamatory toward Plaintiff and others. Material and significant facts known to the Defendants were omitted and distorted," reads Colborn's lawsuit.

Colborn is seeking damages to be determined at trial, legal fees and costs.

Netflix and the filmmakers say Colborn cannot prove that he was defamed.

"The First Amendment requires Colborn, a sworn law enforcement officer, to plead and prove that Netflix distributed Making a Murderer with actual malice. His Amended Complaint comes nowhere close to satisfying federal pleading standards—indeed, it does not even plausibly plead negligence," reads the motion to dismiss. "Because amendment would be futile and because Colborn’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is based entirely on the premise that Netflix defamed him, his lawsuit against Netflix should be dismissed with prejudice."

There are two seasons of Making A Murderer on Netflix. It follows the investigation, trials and appeals of the two men convicted of killing freelance photographer Teresa Halbach in Manitowoc County.