- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri defamation lawsuit over a documentary on “competitive endurance tickling” has moved to federal court, where a similar case from Utah is pending.

The two cases were filed earlier this month against the creators of “Tickled.” The documentary, which investigates the production of videos showing men tickling other men tied to beds, was screened this month during the True/False Film Fest in Columbia and in January at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The suits were filed on behalf of David D’Amato of New York, who is accused in the film of hiding behind aliases to attract participants with promises of a large paycheck and harassing men who refuse to continue making videos, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

D’Amato’s attorney, Justin Summary, said in a written statement that the film “contains falsehoods, makes false implications and serves as a ‘malicious’ and unsupported criminal indictment.”

St. Louis attorney James Sanders, who represents co-director David Farrier, of New Zealand, filed last week to move the Missouri case from Boone County to federal court. The motion notes that federal court has jurisdiction because the plaintiff and defendants aren’t from the same country and more than $75,000 in damages are being sought. Farrier is the only defendant served so far, although co-director Dylan Reeve, also of New Zealand, as well as three other people and the production company that produced “Tickled” were named in the original case filed in Boone County.

Farrier was served with a summons shortly before the first screening of the film at the True/False Film Fest, and the Columbia showing was briefly interrupted when police officers escorted a private detective hired to record the film from the theater.

At a subsequent screening, Farrier told the crowd that he would “love to talk more” but that he couldn’t “because I’m already in trouble,” the Columbia Missourian reported.

The Utah case, meanwhile, seeks to stop distribution of “Tickled,” alleging that the film “maliciously defames” D’Amato “by referring to him as a criminal and a sexual deviant who continues to break the law.” Magnolia Pictures has purchased the North American and international distribution rights, which exclude Farrier and Reeve’s home county, while HBO has purchased the U.S. television rights.

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Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com

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