DETROIT (Legal Newsline) - A Michigan woman has filed a lawsuit against Fox Entertainment Group and actress Reese Witherspoon, among others, for alleged “implanted hate” in the 2011 motion picture "Water for Elephants."

Plaintiff Sarah Deming, a Michigan resident, filed her nine-page complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, April 22.

The named defendants include Fox Entertainment Group Inc., Witherspoon, actor Christopher Waltz and director Francis Lawrence.

Los Angeles-based Fox produced and distributed the film, which was based on Sara Gruen’s 2006 novel of the same name.

According to Deming’s lawsuit, she purchased a ticket for and viewed the film at the Emagine theater in Novi, Michigan, on or about April 29, 2011.

Before seeing the motion picture, she viewed its trailer online.

“Plaintiff had no way of knowing that Water for Elephants used advanced, sophisticated effective techniques, to implant, in the mind, hatred for Jews and Judaism, without the viewer’s conscious awareness -- ‘Implanted Hate,’” according to her complaint.

Deming claims she didn’t discover the alleged implanted hate until on or about December 2016, when viewing still frames from the motion picture.

“This implanted hate consisted of displaying Jewish symbols, without the viewers’ awareness due to the well documented phenomenon of ‘inattentional blindness,’ to associate a psychopathic, sociopathic, animal beater, wife beater and murderer with Jews and Judaism,” Deming wrote in her complaint.

According to Deming, the film’s antagonist, August Rosenbluth, who was played by Waltz -- who Deming says is “explicitly Jewish” in Gruen’s book -- beats helpless animals, murders his destitute workers, and beats and tries to murder his Catholic wife.

“The film utilizes nonconscious Jewish stars, in the traditional blue and white colors, that were intentionally placed next to Rosenbluth in order to implant in the mind that all Jews and Judaism are cruel, murderous and sadistic,” she alleges, pointing to Witherspoon’s outfit in one scene.

She also alleges that halfway down Rosenbluth’s upper arm is a “nonconscious” Jewish star.

Deming claims had she known about the film’s “hateful agenda,” she would not have paid for a ticket and viewed it.

She asks the federal court to issue an injunction enjoining Fox from selling, distributing, transmitting, downloading, showing or displaying Water For Elephants “without removing said subliminal and nonconscious material messages that employ the deceptive method of implanted hate, and/or promote anti-Semitism.”

In the alternative, Deming asks the court to require a warning regarding the alleged implanted hate and anti-Semitism.

Without such injunctive relief, she argues the defendants will continue to violate the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

In addition, Deming seeks reasonable attorney fees, statutory damages or actual damages -- whichever is greater -- actual costs, and any other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

Attorney Martin H. Leaf of Sylvan Lake, Mich., is representing Deming.

Judge Nancy G. Edmunds is presiding, according to the case docket.

Fox could not be immediately reached for comment on the lawsuit’s allegations.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Detroit Division
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