Paul Morantz, the alleged victim who filed the lawsuit against the Avengers star in Los Angeles County Court, sued Downey Jr. for copyright infringement, breach of contract and “elder abuse.”
Morantz, a 77-year-old lawyer and investigative journalist, claims he was contacted by the 57-year-old actor’s team about his book, Synanon: From Miracle To Madness, which focuses on the drug rehabilitation institution Synanon before that quickly turned into a religion and alleged cult.
Morantz also claimed that Downey Jr.’s ongoing podcast, The Sunshine Place, is based on the 77-year-old’s life and his books on the subject, although Downey Jr. and his team “never secured a deal” with Morantz to do so.
According to the newly filed lawsuit, Morantz was “contacted by one of Downey’s employees about his book” and the employee “asked for a digital copy so he could use it as an investigative tool and he was so provided under the agreement they would not go forward unless a deal was struck.”
The employee was also reportedly “given Synanon documents that he was not to use if a deal was not made for the rights to his book and the documents.”
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Although negotiations for the rights to Morantz’s works were started in 2021, Downey Jr.’s offer to Morantz was “rejected” and Morantz made a separate tentative deal with another interested party.
Morantz also accused Downey Jr. of “elder abuse” in the lawsuit because the 77-year-old investigative journalist is allegedly “very ill” and “financial abuse of a person of this age and condition qualifies as elder abuse which entitles [Morantz] to damages for emotional distress in an amount to be proven in court.”
Downey Jr.’s new podcast, The Sunshine Place, is an investigative podcast about Synanon and its “messianic” founder, Charles E. Dederich. The podcast is also reportedly set to use “recollections of its members, survivors, and dedicated chroniclers” to tell the story.
“While we were familiar with Synanon, it wasn’t until we heard the deeply personal stories that we could truly appreciate its epic rise and fall,” Downey Jr. said in a statement about the series, although he has not commented on Morantz’s lawsuit against him.
“We felt this was a strangely relevant and twisted cautionary tale that had to be told about the incredible lengths people will go to seek out answers and the more dangerous ones others will provide,” Downey Jr. added.
The Sunshine Place premiered on August 10 and is set to run every week until September 21. It is unknown if Downey Jr., who serves as an executive producer alongside his wife, Susan Downey, will pull the podcast as a result of the newly filed lawsuit.