Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy have filed a response to Michael Oher’s bombshell lawsuit, claiming that they “never intended” to formally adopt him.
The Tuohy family argued in court documents obtained by Entertainment Tonight on Thursday, September 14, that they “never” took “any assumed legal custody” of Oher, now 37. Sean and Leigh Anne, both 63, also “vehemently deny” Oher’s claims “that they intended to legally adopt him.”
Despite their denials, the Tuohys did acknowledge that they “occasionally referred to [Michael] as a son” and “always felt [he] was like a son.” Sean and Leigh Anne made it clear that they had used the word “son” in “the colloquial sense,” claiming that the word did not cause “any irreparable harm, loss, either past present or future or damages” to Oher.
Last month, Oher alleged in a 14-page petition that the Tuohys convinced him to sign a document in 2004 that appointed them as his conservators. At the time, he “consented on the basis that doing so would make him a member of the Tuohy family,” but the document “in fact provided him no familial relationship with the Tuohys.” Oher claimed that he only learned in February of this year that the document legally allowed the Tuohys to make business deals in his name.
When referencing the conservatorship in their response, Sean and Leigh Anne claimed that “the NCAA made it clear that the only way [Oher] could attend the Ole Miss [was] if he was part of the Tuohy family in some fashion.”
The couple doubled down on their claims that “there was never an intent to adopt him,” adding that the “conservatorship was the tool chosen to accomplish this goal.”
The Tuohys also claimed Oher was lying about only recently finding out about the conservatorship, calling his timeline “demonstratively false.” However, Sean and Leigh Anne made it clear that they’re “ready, willing, and able to terminate the conservatorship by consent at any time.”
Oher and the Tuohy family rose to fame following the release of the 2009 movie The Blind Side, which was inspired by their lives — and Michael Lewis’ book of the same name.
In his August lawsuit, Oher alleged that he hasn’t seen any money from the film’s success. He is looking for a “fair share of profits,” along with “unspecified compensatory and punitive damages” from the Tuohys.
The Tuohys, for their part, claimed that Oher “agreed” to an “arrangement where each party would get 20 percent of the proceeds paid” for the film.
When news broke of the lawsuit last month, Sean called Oher’s accusations “insulting,” telling the Daily Memphian that the family was “devastated” by the entire situation.
“It’s upsetting to think we would make money off any of our children,” he said at the time. “But we’re going to love Michael at 37 just like we loved him at 16.”