A guy from Kentucky is suing Netflix for $1 million, saying that they used his picture in a true-crime documentary and hurt his reputation.
Taylor Hazlewood, a 27-year-old respiratory therapist from Kentucky, is suing Netflix for defamation because they used a personal photo of him holding a hatchet in a 2023 documentary called “The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,” according to his claim, which was filed in a Texas court.
The lawsuit says that in the video, an Instagram picture of Hazlewood is shown with audio that says “stone-cold killer” and text that says “You can never trust anyone.”
Hazlewood’s picture is shown next to pictures of Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, a hitchhiker who became famous after being found guilty of killing Joseph Galfy, the main character of the movie.
On Jan. 12, Netflix put out McGillvary, a true crime story based on real events. It tells the story of how McGillvary became famous, was found guilty of murder, and was put in prison.
The lawsuit says that Hazlewood has nothing to do with McGillvary or his crimes, but she was shown on the show twice with the man who was guilty of murder.
Court papers say that Hazlewood took the picture with the hatchet in June 2019 while he was with a friend. When he saw the hatchet, it made him think of “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen, which was his favorite book as a child. He took a picture and posted it on his own social media.
“Netflix stole the Hazlewood photograph and used it in two different parts of the movie for no reason other than pure carelessness,” the lawsuit said.
After the documentary came out, Hazlewood got a lot of texts from friends, family, and past employers telling him that his picture was being used.
The tweet below confirms the news:
“They put your picture up with a murderer, lol,” an old friend from Ohio told Hazlewood.
In the case, it was said that Hazlewood “did not understand the implications” of his photo being used at first.
“But after getting a lot more questions about his role in the movie and seeing the movie for himself, Hazlewood realized how bad this unwanted publicity was,” court documents say.
He is suing Netflix for slander and stealing his name or right to be famous. Hazlewood is asking $1 million in damages.
“Netflix did an incredible amount of damage to Hazlewood,” the lawsuit says. “The film has been seen by tens of thousands of people, and Netflix’s false portrayal of him as dangerous, a murderer, or a person you can’t trust has caused him personal distress, emotional pain, and damage to his reputation.”
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Who is Caleb McGillvary?
McGillvary, who is also known as Kai the Hitchhiker, became well-known after he told a Fresno, California, TV station in February 2013 about a hatchet attack on a guy.
McGillvary said in the interview that he was a passenger in someone else’s car when the driver hit a person and pinned them against a truck. In McGillvary’s original interview with KMPH FOX26 News, she said that when an onlooker tried to help, the driver attacked her.
The interview, which has strong language, says that McGillvary said he struck the driver with a hatchet to save the bystander.
In the same year, McGillvary was charged with murder in the death of 73-year-old New Jersey attorney Joseph Galfy. He said he killed Galfy in self-defense because Galfy drugged and raped him after he gave him a place to stay.
The Fresno Bee says that McGillvary was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2019, and he is now spending 57 years in prison.
Even though McGillvary is the major person in the Netflix documentary, he is also suing the company. He says that they are “ruthlessly exploiting a hero’s life story for money,” according to the Fresno Bee.
McGillvary accuses dozens of defendants, including Netflix, of stealing intellectual property, interfering with business deals, and stripping him “of his heroic title for their own selfish gain.” Netflix is one of the defendants named in the lawsuit.
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