A former NFL player who inspired the Oscar-winning film The Blind Side has begun legal action over papers he signed nearly 20 years ago.
Michael Oher, 37, filed a petition in a Tennessee court accusing Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of lying to him when he signed papers making them his conservators – which he thought would also make them his adoptive parents.
He wants the agreement terminated and compensation based on the millions earned off his name and story.
Oher played eight seasons in the NFL after being drafted in 2009, and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.
Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for playing Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side, which dramatised how the Tuohys took in Oher when he was a homeless teenager and helped him flourish.
The film was also nominated for best picture at the 2010 awards.
However, Oher has now accused the family of enriching themselves by “falsely and publicly” representing themselves as his adoptive parents.
The legal papers say he found out in February “the conservatorship to which he consented on the basis that doing so would make him a member of the Tuohy family, in fact provided him no familial relationship”.
“At no point did the Tuohys inform Michael that they would have ultimate control of all his contracts, and as a result Michael did not understand that if the conservatorship was granted, he was signing away his right to contract for himself,” the petition claims.
The filing alleges the family entered into a movie deal for the rights to his story for $225,000 plus 2.5% of future proceeds.
However, it says that while the signature on the 2007 contract is similar to his own, he “at no time ever willingly or knowingly signed this document and… nobody ever presented this contract to him with any explanation that he was signing such a document”.
The Blind Side made more than $300m (£236m) worldwide, according to the Internet Movie Database.
A lawyer for the Tuohys declined to comment but said they would be providing the court with a response to the allegations.
The issue of conservatorships – a way for someone to assume legal guardianship over an adult if they cannot make decisions themselves – came to the fore two years ago when Britney Spears was released from one which stopped her making her own medical and financial decisions.