‘War Dogs’ – The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth?
Warner Bros.’s 2016 film War Dogs is about two friends in their early 20s who are living in Miami Beach during the Iraq War and trying to come up with clever ways to make a living when they decide to exploit a little known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on United States Military contracts. Starting small, they begin to collect big time money and are soon living the high life. But the truth is, the pair has gotten in over their heads after landing a 300 million dollar deal to arm the Afghan Military — a deal that puts them in business with some not-so-good people, not the least of which turns out to be the United States’ government. Pretty soon, they are in too deep and running for their lives at every turn.
The Hollywood movie is based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. Note that the movie’s IMDB page states it’s “based on” true events. Perhaps, not depicting the whole truth. This wording is important.
Warner Bros. has recently been hauled into a federal court in Florida by the real-life arms dealer Efraim Diveroli who has claimed the story, while somewhat accurately recounting his experience, does not, in fact, depict the whole truth. Diveroli has been convicted of his crimes and is currently incarcerated. But, that hasn’t stopped him from taking his claim to court and exposing the truth, even surviving a subsequent motion to dismiss from the defense. If the production company does not agree to his financial terms, Warner Bros. will have to respond to the factual allegations in court and let a jury decide the extent of the story’s truth.
Diveroli is seeking to hold Warner Bros. liable for financial losses and for misleading the public with a falsified recreation of what truly occurred. Efraim claimed he had completed a manuscript about his life back in 2014, but instead of Warner Bros. offering to use it in scripting the film, the company hired a third-party writer who had done an article in Rolling Stone on Diveroli to write their own, more publicly appealing, version. Diveroli is alleging that presenting the movie as a “true story” rather than “based on a true story” eliminates their rights to spin the story in a creative way, according to current laws.
Diveroli is partially relying on a federal law known as the Lantham Act. This act protects both businesses and consumers. It states that misleading claims made when a company advertises its products or services that damage a competitor allow for the competitor to file a lawsuit seeking monetary damages. Since Diveroli had written his own script and attempted to sell that script, the court found that his claims for false advertising presented legitimate issues of fact and recommended a jury trial to sort out whether the marketing materials Warner Bros used were, in fact, misleading. Should the company choose to accept the court’s decision and pay out the money sought, however, a trial could be avoided.