Hustlers: Jennifer Lopez’s company sued for £30m by woman who inspired character

Samantha Barbash is suing for defamation

Ellie Harrison
Wednesday 08 January 2020 09:52 GMT
Jennifer Lopez robs the rich in first trailer for Hustlers

Jennifer Lopez’s production company is being sued for $40m (£30m) by Samantha Barbash, the woman whose life inspired the singer and actor’s lead character in Hustlers.

Barbash is alleging Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions used her likeness and story without her permission and defamed her in the movie. She claims that she was approached repeatedly for her consent but did not give it.

Inspired by true events, and adapted from Jessica Pressler’s viral New York Magazine story The Hustlers at Scores, the film tells the story of a group of New York strippers – led by Lopez’s Ramona – who drugged and robbed a number of Wall Street bankers in the months after the 2008 stock market crash.

Barbash pleaded guilty to conspiracy, assault and grand larceny for her role in the real-life scheme in 2016, ultimately serving five years of probation.

In the suit, Barbash reportedly alleges that a scene showing Ramona “using and manufacturing illegal substances in her home where she lived with her child” is untrue and offensive.

Barbash’s lawyer Bruno V Gioffre Jr told Rolling Stone: “My client is offended that the defendants used her likeness to make over $150m (£114m), defamed her character and tried to trick her into selling her rights to the production company for a mere $6,000 (£4,500).”

Barbash is asking for $40m (£30m) in punitive and compensatory damages.

In an interview with TMZ in September, Barbash said: “They pretty much, basically, stole my story. I wouldn’t sign my rights away. I wasn’t giving up my film and TV rights for peanuts. J-Lo doesn’t work for free. Why would I?”

She added: “J-Lo betrayed me since she didn’t even reach out to the woman that she’s portraying... People are going to see the movie because J-Lo’s on a stripper pole. I don’t even know how to do a – I’ve never been on a stripper pole like that in my life.”

The Independent has contacted Jennifer Lopez and Nuyorican Productions for comment.

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