Intrusion Claim Against Documentary Filmmaker Dismissed

Trisha Rich is a Associate in our Chicago office .

After nearly three years of litigation, the intrusion upon seclusion case against documentary film company Kartmequin Films and anti-gang violence organization CeaseFire has been dismissed. Luten v. Kartemquin Films, Case No. 10 L 9181, Cook County, IL, Circuit Court (Case Management Order, June 5, 2013).


The plaintiffs in Luten sued Kartemquin Films, a Chicago-based documentary film company, three individual cameramen, the anti-gang violence organization CeaseFire (a division of the University of Illinois), and two of CeaseFire's directors, following the March 2010 funeral of Annie Gibson Bacon. Bacon was the mother of nine children, including plaintiff Elnora Luten and former gang leader (and now federal prisoner) Jeff Fort. The other plaintiff in the case was Mustaafa Naji Fort, the son of Elnora Luten, and Bacon's grandson.

Jeff Fort was an early political leader in Chicago's gang scene, and co-founded Chicago's notorious Black P. Stones gang; Fort also went on to later found the El Rukn gang. In 1987, Fort was the first American convicted of terrorism, after conspiring with Muammar Gaddafi to sell arms to Libya, with the purpose of engaging in acts of domestic terrorism. Despite this past acts and current incarceration, Fort retains a strong following in many Southside Chicago neighborhoods, where he is revered to this day. Fort is currently housed in a supermax prison in Colorado, under a no human contact order.

In part because of Fort's cult-like following, Bacon's funeral was a very public event. The funeral was attended by approximately 1,500 individuals, and included a number of high profile speakers, including Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), a purported friend of the family. Another of the attendees was Ameena Matthews, Jeff Fort's daughter. Matthews is a high profile member of Chicago's anti-gang violence community, who went on to star in Kartemquin's documentary film, The Interrupters. As a personal favor, Matthews had requested that the Kartemquin cameramen film Bacon's funeral, so that she could send a copy of the funeral footage to her father. A second film crew, requested by other family members, also attended and recorded funeral footage.

Following the funeral, plaintiffs brought suit alleging intrusion upon seclusion and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiffs alleged that the cameramen entered the church and filmed footage of the...

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