A Kentucky man is suing Netflix, alleging that a true-crime documentary on the streaming service lifted a photograph from his Instagram account and used it without his permission.
Taylor Hazlewood, a Kentucky resident, filed the lawsuit against the streaming service on April 10, The Dallas Morning News reported. The suit, filed in a Dallas County court in Texas, alleged that Netflix used his photo in “The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker,” according to court records.
Hazlewood is seeking more than $1 million in damages, the Morning News reported.
Hazlewood alleges that the film depicts him in a “sinister and defamatory light,” erroneously using his photograph in a scene about a “stone-cold killer,” according to the newspaper.
According to IMDb.com, “The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker” is a “shocking documentary” that chronicles “a happy-go-lucky nomad’s ascent to viral stardom and the steep downward spiral that resulted in his imprisonment.”
The show premiered in January and followed the rise and fall of Caleb “Kai” McGillvary, according to WFAA-TV. McGillvary went viral after a television interview after he intervened in an assault incident in 2013, the Morning News reported.
In April 2019, McGillvary was convicted of murdering Joseph Galfy, 73, in Union County, New Jersey, WCBS-TV reported.
McGillvary, who was dubbed “Kai the Hitchhiker” was sentenced to 57 years in prison Thursday in Union County superior court, according to the television station.
Hazlewood, who is a respiratory therapist in an intensive care unit, is not connected to McGillvary or his murder case, according to his lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, the photograph used by Netflix was one of Hazlewood holding a hatchet in June 2019, with the caption, “Hatchet by Gary Paulsen,” which was a reference to his favorite childhood book, WFAA reported.
The suit alleges that toward the end of the film, a voice asks “Is this a guardian angel or a stone-cold killer?” just as Hazlewood’s photo is displayed, the Morning News reported.
According to the lawsuit, many of Hazlewood’s friends and colleagues contacted him after the film aired, the newspaper reported.
“Are you kidding? Did you not know you were going be in it?” asked one friend, according to the lawsuit. “It’s just bad vibes,” said another.
“Hazlewood’s reputation has clearly been tarnished,” the lawsuit stated, according to WFAA. “There are many acquaintances who will see Hazelwood’s photograph in the film and will assume the worst without contacting Hazelwood to get the truth.”
WFAA has reached out to Netflix officials for comment but has not heard from the company.
Hazlewood’s attorney, Angela Buchanan, is based in Dallas. She did not respond to requests for comment, the Morning News reported. The newspaper also reached out to Netflix but has not heard from the company.
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