Lawsuit over popular ‘S-Town’ podcast dismissed

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A lawsuit against the makers of the hit podcast “S-Town,” which tells the story of a man’s troubled life and death in rural Alabama, was dismissed after a settlement was reached with the estate of the show’s late protagonist.

The lawsuit, filed by the estate of John B. McLemore, was dismissed March 12, WIAT-TV reportedTuesday.

“S-Town” was released in 2017 and has been downloaded more than 92 million times. The serialized audio show tells the story of McLemore, an antique clock restorer from rural Woodstock, located west of Birmingham. McLemore called the community “S-Town,” although he spelled out the first word, an expletive. He died before the show was released and his grave is sometimes visited by fans of the podcast.

Craig Cargile, the executor of McLemore’s estate, claimed in the lawsuit filed in 2018 that the show revealed personal aspects of McLemore’s life without his permission and violated Alabama’s Right of Publicity Act.

Lawyers representing “S-Town” contended that the work was journalism and was not covered by the act.

In a statement to the show’s producers that was given to WIAT, Cargile said that through the course of the lawsuit, he learned that McLemore was an active participant in the show up to his death and volunteered a lot of information about himself.

“As the administrator of the Estate of John B. McLemore, I declare that the estate has no objection or claim to the podcast, nor does the estate have any objection or claim to any future uses of the podcast or the journalistic and creative work relating to John B. McLemore by the defendants or their designee,” Cargile wrote.

In an interview with WIAT, “S-Town” executive producer Julie Snyder said she was glad the lawsuit had been resolved.

While not providing details of the settlement, Snyder said that she, podcast host Brian Reed and the project’s other producers had proved that everything they did in the show was done legitimately.

“We take that seriously and we wanted to set the record straight,” she said.

After “S-Town” premiered, there was talk about turning the show into a movie, but Snyder said the lawsuit put those discussions on hold.

“Now, we’re back into early stages of development,” she said.

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