NEW YORK – A man cheered as a hero for jumping onto a subway track to rescue a stranger has sued a lawyer he claims manipulated him into an unfair contract meant to profit on his fame.
Wesley Autrey Sr. says in court papers he signed the contract Feb. 12 without reading it, agreeing that lawyer Diane L. Kleiman would represent and advise him in financial and other matters stemming from his subway heroism.
Kleiman, a former prosecutor, denied on Monday that she had cheated Autrey. She said Autrey and several family members read the contract after keeping it for several days.
Autrey gained public attention on Jan. 2, 2007, after Cameron Hollopeter, a 19-year-old student suffered a seizure at a subway platform and fell onto the tracks.
Autrey jumped down and pulled the teen into a 12-inch-deep drainage trough between the tracks and lay on top of him as the train passed over their heads.
The train grazed the top of Autrey's hat, and he and Hollopeter remained under a car for 20 minutes while workers shut off the electrified third rail.
Autrey's lawsuit, filed Friday, says the contract he signed gives Kleiman and her business partner, Marco Antonio Esposito, exclusive rights to exploit his name and reputation and gives them ownership of intellectual property rights to his story.
Autrey said Esposito presented him the contract in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 12, shortly before he was to go to the White House and meet President Bush. He said he felt pressured, and signed.
Autrey, a 50-year-old construction worker, says in court papers that the contract is "a one-sided agreement" that gives the lion's share of everything he earns to Kleiman and Esposito, operator of an entertainment production company.
Autrey's lawsuit asks the court to declare the contract void. His lawyer, Barbara Mehlsack, said she would have no comment on the case.