The estate of the man at the centre of the popular S-Town podcast is suing the show’s creators, saying they exploited details of his private life for financial gain.
Craig Cargile, the executor of John B. McLemore’s estate filed the lawsuit on Thursday in Bibb County, Alabama. The lawsuit contends McLemore didn’t give permission to broadcast the intimate details of his sexual orientation, mental state and other aspects of his life.
S-Town tells the story of McLemore, an antique clock restorer from Woodstock, Alabama, who killed himself in 2015.
McLemore in 2012 sent an email to producers of This American Life asking for help in a murder investigation. The resulting 2017 podcast focused heavily on McLemore and included the description on its website as an “unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.”
“None of these ‘mysteries’ are of legitimate public concern, nor were these matters that McLemore contacted [Brian] Reed to investigate or write about. Instead, they generally involved the private matters of McLemore’s life,” attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.
S-Town executive producer Julie Snyder wrote in an emailed response that she could not comment on the litigation other than to say it “lacks merit.”
“S-Town is produced consistent with the highest journalistic standards and we intend to defend against this lawsuit aggressively,” Snyder wrote.
The lawsuit asks for compensatory and punitive damages.