In a complaint filed Tuesday, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co. attempted to block the release of Netflix’s upcoming film “The Laundromat,” alleging libel, false light, false advertising, and trademark dilution. The lawsuit was filed by Stephan Seeger in the District Court for the District of Connecticut.
Mossack Fonseca is the firm at the center of the Panama Papers, a cache of millions of leaked documents that implicated hundreds of thousands of clients of the relatively obscure firm in schemes to hide funds in tax havens. The firm is also tied to the “Operation Car Wash” scandal, which has toppled multiple governments in South America.
Mossack Fonseca shut down in 2018 amid the mounting reputational damage and scrutiny in the wake of the Panama Papers leak two years before. They have been denied bail in Panama, as they are viewed as a flight risk.
The plaintiffs alleged that the dramedy film paints them in a false light of criminality, depicting them as the villains of the film – cackling, excessively-dressed attorneys profiting off of a tragic tour boat accident. Mossack Fonseca raised a concern that the film will unfairly taint or bias both the ongoing criminal case against them in Panama, as well as the ongoing FBI investigation into their affairs. They drew a connection between the film’s planned release date and the possibility of additional bail or other requirements during their prosecution.
The suit also alleged that the film unnecessarily uses the firm’s logo, diluting its trademark by portraying it alongside criminal activity.
Netflix, represented by Cowdery & Murphy, responded with a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction in the District of Connecticut. The motion was granted and the case was transferred to the Central District of California Thursday.
The film, starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Banderas, is set for release October 25.