NEW YORK – A lawyer sued the producers of the television show "Law & Order (search)" for $15 million Friday, claiming they defamed him by portraying him as a crooked attorney in one "ripped from the headlines" episode.
Ravi Batra (search) said the show titled "Floater" maliciously inflicted emotional, economic and professional injury on him.
The episode initially focuses on the husband of a woman whose decomposed body is found in the Hudson River. Detectives investigate the husband's alibi — and find a corruption scandal at the courthouse where the wife worked. The scandal includes her divorce lawyer and a judge who has heard a suspiciously large number of the lawyer's cases.
Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, where Batra is well-known in legal and political circles, investigations by the Brooklyn district attorney's office have resulted in arrests for the alleged fixing of matrimonial cases by judges and lawyers, and for the alleged sale of consultancies and appointments to judgeships.
The lawsuit says the "Floater" episode featured an Indian-American, Brooklyn-based lawyer named Ravi Patel who has similarities to Batra — including a bald head and facial hair.
People who know Batra and saw the episode "were disturbed and distressed by the story line of criminal conduct attributed to plaintiff (Batra) by defendants," court papers say.
Batra's lawsuit names 35 defendants, including "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf (search) and NBC Universal. A spokesman for Wolf referred calls to NBC Universal spokesman Curt King, who said the studio hadn't seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment on it.
"But this episode, like all 'Law & Order' episodes, is fictional," King said.