Michael Oher’s nearly 20-year conservatorship with the Tuohy family has come to an end.
Judge Kathleen Gomes ruled in a Tennessee court on Friday, September 29, to terminate the former NFL star’s conservatorship amid his ongoing legal battle with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, according to the Associated Press.
The conservatorship was put in place in 2004 when Oher, now 37, was 18 years old and was living under the care of the Tuohys. The agreement granted Sean and Leigh Anne, both 63, legal control over Oher’s finances and allowed them to make business deals in his name.
As a part of the conservatorship’s termination, Oher is reportedly asking for the Tuohys to provide information on all the money they might have earned as a result of the agreement. Gomes, for her part, stated on Friday that she “cannot believe” the conservatorship was ever in place.
The decision to dismiss the conservatorship did not put an end to Oher’s legal battle with the Tuohys entirely. Last month, Oher filed a lawsuit claiming that he unknowingly entered a conservatorship under the guise of being formally adopted by the Tuohys — and alleged he only learned the truth earlier this year. According to Oher, Sean and Leigh Anne financially profited off him and his story, which inspired the 2009 Oscar-winning film The Blind Side.
In addition to seeking to terminate his conservatorship, Oher asked that the couple pay him his “fair share of profits” and “unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.”
The Tuohys responded to the lawsuit in a statement via their lawyer, Marty Singer, alleging that the couple wanted profits from The Blind Side to be shared equally amongst the family and “have made good on that pledge.” The family also accused Oher of threatening to “plant a negative story about them in the press unless they paid him $15 million.” (Sean and Leigh Anne share daughter Collins, 36, and son Sean “SJ” Jr., 30.)
Sean, for his part, claimed that the conservatorship was the only way Oher was permitted to attend and play football at the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss. The author of The Blind Side book, Michael Lewis, later told The Washington Post that the Tuohys earned around $350,000 in royalties from the 2009 film and planned to share the money with the entire family, including Oher. Lewis, 62, alleged that Oher stopped cashing his royalty checks, which the Tuohys then deposited in a trust for him.
In court documents obtained by Us Weekly on August 23, Oher claimed that Sean and Leigh Anne negotiated his contract for the movie on his behalf. “The co-conservators never presented [Oher] with any written documentation to show any earnings they derived from the movie,” read the documents. “[He] has been kept in the dark, forced to rely on the verbal assurances from his co-conservators.”
On August 29, Oher’s lawyers issued subpoenas to the Creative Artists Agency and Alcon Entertainment, requesting “all documents and communications” regarding the former athlete’s movie contracts and payments. A third subpoena was sent to the Memphis Shelby County Schools system requesting any communications or documents about Oher.
As the legal battle continues, the Tuohys alleged in court documents earlier this month that they “never intended” to adopt Oher in an official capacity, despite having referred to him “as a son.” The couple asserted that they had never “assumed legal custody” but “always felt [Michael] was like a son,” denying that the family caused him “any irreparable harm, loss, either past present or future or damages.”