A court has ended Michael Oher’s conservatorship, putting an end to the Tuohy family’s legal authority and responsibility for overseeing his affairs.
The city of Memphis, Tennessee On Friday, a court in Tennessee announced that she was terminating the conservatorship arrangement between former NFL star Michael Oher and a Memphis couple who took him in during his high school years. However, the widely publicized conflict over money concerns will continue.
Judge Kathleen Gomes of the Shelby County Probate Court has announced that she is rescinding the 2004 agreement that gave Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy power over Oher’s assets. When Oher was 18 and still living with the couple, he signed the deal because he was a highly sought-after high school football player. The 2009 film “The Blind Side,” for which Sandra Bullock won an Oscar, tells their tale.
Gomes said she was not dropping the charges. Oher claims the Tuohys exploited his name, image, and likeness to benefit themselves and misrepresented to him that the arrangement meant the Tuohys were adopting him; therefore, he has ordered the Tuohys to submit a financial accounting of any money that may have gone to them as part of the deal.
In Tennessee, a person loses the ability to make their own choices if a conservatorship is established. It is often used in the context of a physical or mental impairment.
Oher’s petition for conservatorship said that he was above the age of 18 and did not suffer from any “diagnosed physical or psychological disabilities.”
Gomes expressed dismay that such an understanding could be reached. Conservatorship should have terminated long ago, she argued, adding that in her 43 years of practice, she had never seen an arrangement struck with someone who was not handicapped.
She finally remarked, “I can’t believe it got done.”
Oher and the Tuohys participated in the meeting via video call, but they remained silent throughout. Both sides’ attorneys agreed that the settlement should be finalized, although they will still be litigating Oher’s allegations.
Oher, now 37 years old, sued his adoptive parents in probate court in August, claiming that the Tuohys had lied to him about becoming his conservators. If the conservatorship is ended, all profits from using his name and tale are to be transparently reported, and any money owed to him is to be paid back with interest.
He claimed that the pair had misrepresented themselves as his adopted parents and that he had learned in February that the conservatorship agreement he had signed in 2004 was not what he had been led to believe it was.
Over the course of the agreement’s 19 years, Oher alleges the Tuohys have kept him in the dark about any financial transactions using his name, image, or likeness.
Oher has been accused of engaging in a “shakedown” by making false assertions that the Tuohys profited themselves at his cost.
The wealthy couple said in court documents that they treated Oher like a son and gave him everything he needed throughout his time with them, including food, housing, clothes, and transportation, but that they never meant to formally adopt him.
In their lawsuit, the Tuohys alleged that Oher called them “mom and dad,” and that they sometimes referred to him as their son. Even though they’ve been quoted on their websites as calling Oher “our adopted son,” they insist that the word was meant to be used “in the colloquial sense” and that “they have never intended that reference to be viewed with legal implication.”
The conservatorship was reportedly selected by the Tuohys so that Oher could attend Ole Miss, where Sean Tuohy was a star basketball player, in accordance with NCAA regulations.
According to a court filing submitted by the Tuohys on September 14, the NCAA “made it clear that he could attend Ole Miss if he was part of the Tuohy family in some fashion” after it became apparent that the petitioner could not attend Ole Miss due to living with the respondents.
The Tuohys also claimed that Oher fabricated his February revelation that he was not adopted. A statement from 2011 by Oher in his book “I Beat the Odds” is cited as evidence that Oher knew the Tuohys had been named conservators.
The production firm for “The Blind Side,” based on a novel authored by Sean Tuohy’s friend Michael Lewis, reportedly gave the Tuohys a tiny advance, according to the couple’s attorneys. In addition, they said Oher shared “a tiny percentage of net profits” with the other people involved.
The lawyers calculated that Oher and the Tuohys each earned $100,000, and the pair reported and paid taxes on Oher’s behalf.
The Tuohys claimed in the paperwork that they never signed Oher to a professional football contract and that he was OK with the financial arrangements shown in the film “The Blind Side.”
Oher was selected by the Ravens with the 23rd overall choice in the 2009 NFL Draft, and he played for the team for the next five years, during which time he helped them to a Super Bowl victory. Over the course of eight NFL seasons, he appeared in 110 games and made 11 starts for the Tennessee Titans in 2014. The Carolina Panthers were where Oher’s career came to a close.