Tennessee Judge Ends Conservatorship Between Michael Oher and Tuohy Family

NEW YORK - APRIL 25: Baltimore Ravens #23 draft pick Michael Oher poses for a photograph with his family at Radio City Music Hall for the 2009 NFL Draft on April 25, 2009 in New York City (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Baltimore Ravens #23 draft pick Michael Oher poses for a photograph with his family at Radio City Music Hall for the 2009 NFL Draft on April 25, 2009 in New York City (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
3:15 PM – Friday, September 29, 2023

A Tennessee judge announced that she is ending the conservatorship agreement between ex-NFL player Michael Oher and the Tuohy family who took him under their wing when he was in high school. The story was the inspiration behind the 2008 film The Blind Side.


On Friday, Shelby County Probate Court Judge Kathleen Gomes declared that she is terminating the conservatorship agreement made between the former NFL player and Sean and Leigh Annee Tuohy. The agreement was established in 2004 and allowed for the Memphis couple to be in control of Oher’s finances.

Oher signed the agreement when he was 18 years old while living with the couple as he was being scouted by colleges around the nation for being a star high school football player.

Gomes explained that she was not going to be dismissing the case. Oher claimed that the Memphis couple used his name, image and likeness to use his money for themselves. He also stated that the couple lied to him about the agreement by claiming that the conservatorship agreement was actually an adoption agreement. Oher requested for the Tuohys to provide financial accounting of money that had possibly come to them as part of the agreement.

According to Tennessee law, a conservatorship eliminates power from an individual to make their own decisions, and it is usually utilized in the case of a medical condition or disability.

However, in Oher’s case, the conservatorship was agreed upon although he was over 18 years old at the time and had no diagnosed physical or psychological disabilities.

According to Gomes, she was extremely disturbed that such an agreement was ever established. She explained that she had never seen in her 43-year career a conservatorship agreement started with an individual who was not disabled. She believes that it should have ended a long time ago.

The judge said, “I can’t believe it got done.”

Lawyers for both Oher and Tuoy had come to an agreement that the conservatorship should end, but the case will continue to adhere to Oher’s accusations.

The 37-year-old Oher filed a petition in August that blamed the Tuohy’s of lying to him by having him sign papers that made them his conservators instead of his adoptive parents almost two decades ago. 

The former NFL star requested for the conservatorship to be put to an end, a full accounting of the money earned off his name and wanted to be paid what he is due with interest. Additionally, he stated that the Memphis couple had kept him blindsided regarding his financial dealings related to his name, image and likeness throughout the 19-year duration of the agreement.

According to a court filing, the couple proclaimed that they loved Oher like a son and provided him with everything he needed. However, they denied saying that they had the intention to legally adopt him.

Additionally, the Tuohy’s court filing stated that the former NFL star called them “mom and dad,” and that they referred to him as their son occasionally. They also said that the conservatorship was the mechanism chosen to comply with NCAA standards that would have kept Oher from attending the University of Mississippi, where Sean Tuohy was a star basketball player.

The couple recognized that websites show them referring to Oher as an adopted son, but the term was only used “in the colloquial sense and they have never intended that reference to be viewed with legal implication.”

“When it became clear that the Petitioner could not consider going to the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”) as a result of living with the Respondents, the NCAA made it clear that he could attend Ole Miss if he was part of the Tuohy family in some fashion,” the Tuohys’ September 14th court filing said.

In their lawsuit, the Tuohys claimed they never signed any professional football contracts for Oher and that he was content with their financial arrangements as depicted in The Blind Side. The Tuohys and Oher, according to their lawyers, earned $100,000 each, and the couple took care of Oher’s taxes.

Oher, who was selected with the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Ole Miss, played for the Baltimore Ravens for his first five seasons, during that time he won a Super Bowl. Over the course of eight NFL seasons, he participated in 110 games, including 11 starts for the Tennessee Titans in 2014. Oher finished his football career with the Carolina Panthers.

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