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Judge Formally Ends Michael Oher’s Conservatorship

Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with his family after the NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals at Bank Of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

On Friday afternoon, Tennessee judge Kathleen Gomes terminated the 19-year conservatorship agreement that allowed Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy to control former offensive lineman Michael Oher's finances throughout his NFL career. Oher filed for the nullification of the conservatorship in August after discovering earlier in 2023 that the arrangement that he thought he had with the Tuohys was in fact more exploitative than he had been led to believe. Oher alleges that he was told he was being adopted as a member of the family when he was 18, only to learn that the arrangement was mostly a way for the Tuohys to make business deals in his name and cut him out from royalties.

In a court filing earlier this year, Oher says he learned he was the only member of the family not receiving royalty checks from The Blind Side, a film about the pure benevolence of the Tuohy family which grossed over $300 million at the box office. Oher was unsettled by his portrayal in the movie as, in his lawyer's words, "unintelligent," and said the public caricature materially affected his NFL career. The already wobbly relationship with the Tuohys "permanently fractured when he realized he wasn't adopted and a part of the family." The Tuohys responded, claiming Oher was free to leave the conservatorship, that they never made any money off of the movie, and that Oher was trying to shake them down for a couple million bucks.

Per the Associated Press, Gomes "said she was disturbed that such an agreement was ever reached." Gomes has been a judge since 1980, and she said she's never seen such a conservatorship "reached with someone who was not disabled."

"I cannot believe it got done," Gomes said. While the conservatorship has been dissolved, Gomes said she was not dismissing the case outright. In his filing, Oher asked for a full accounting of all the money that the Tuohy family made off of his name, image, and likeness during their 19-year relationship, the one he thought was a familial one that turned out to be more of a business arrangement. This is a significant development, but it is not the end of Michael Oher's case against the Tuohys.

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