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N.J. Judge Transfers ‘Hurt Locker’ Case to California

NEWARK, N.J. (CN) - The Army sergeant who is suing the creators of the Oscar-winning film "The Hurt Locker" for defamation will have to argue his case in the Central District of California, a New Jersey federal judge ruled.

Because the 2008 film was released in New Jersey, the state could be an admissible venue for Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver to sue journalist Mark Boal, director Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker and several other individuals and film companies, according to the ruling.

U.S. District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh wrote that he would move the action to California since that is where most of the defendants are based, and since Sarver lives in Tennessee.

"Plaintiff's choice of New Jersey as a forum seems nothing less than arbitrary," Cavanaugh wrote.

Sarver was a resident of Dover, N.J., during the "relevant" time, according to the complaint, but he has lived in Clarksville, Tenn., since August 2009 and "has tenuous ties to New Jersey," according to the ruling.

"The fact that neither the plaintiff, nor any of the witnesses, documents, defendants or events that gave rise to the litigation are tied to New Jersey in any meaningful way weighs heavily in favor of transfer to the Central District of California," Cavanaugh wrote. "Were the convenience of plaintiff a major concern, especially in a situation where a private individual has sued several corporate entities who quite likely have more substantial resources at their disposal, the court would weigh the convenience factor differently, but since plaintiff resides in Tennessee, it is hard to understand how New Jersey represents a more convenient forum for Ppaintiff."

In the ruling, Cavanaugh also denied the defendants' motion to dismiss.

Sarver says he led an explosive ordinance disposal unit in Iraq, and that Boal was embedded with his company for a month. Boal then wrote an article about Sarver that appeared in Playboy, and he wrote the screenplay for "The Hurt Locker," allegedly using Sarver as the basis for the character Will James.

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