A young man who as a boy became the subject of a bestselling book claiming he had went to Heaven and met Jesus following a car accident while comatose is now suing book publisher Tyndale House for damages.
Alex Malarkey, now 20, was left as a quadriplegic following the 2004 accident, which was made famous in the 2010 bestseller The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven.
A lawsuit filed on Monday at DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton, Illinois, claims that Tyndale made millions from his account, which in 2015 Malarkey admitted was a total fabrication made up by his father, Kevin Malarkey.
The suit explains that the father made up the story that Malarkey "had gone to Heaven, communicated with God the Father, Jesus, angels and the devil, and then returned," and that he had taken all the profits from the book.
The complaint adds:
"Despite the fact that Tyndale House has made millions of dollars off Alex's identity and an alleged autobiographical story of his life, Tyndale House paid Alex, a paralyzed young man, nothing."
In 2015 Malarkey sent a letter to LifeWay Christian Stores and other faith-based book sellers, explaining why he initially went along with his father's fabrications:
"I said I went to Heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible."
The admission created a fire-storm in the Christian publishing world, with Tyndale pulling the book, and LifeWay, among others, returning the copies of the book at its stores.
Malarkey's mother, Beth, who divorced from Kevin Malarkey, has also said that The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven is a lie.
"Alex first tried to tell a 'pastor' how wrong the book was and how it needed stopped. Alex was told that the book was blessing people," she explained. "I am trying to defend my son and truth. Alex did not write the book and it is not blessing him!"
Malarkey and his mother said in 2015 that they had warned both Tyndale and LifeWay for years that the accounts in the book are not true, but both publishers apparently continued profiting from the book despite the revelations.
LifeWay insisted that it only found out the truth about the book through Malarkey's open letter, moving immediately to remove it from its bookshelves.
Monday's lawsuit declares that Malarkey does not want to be connected with the book in any way, shape or form.
"Now that he is an adult, Alex desires to have his name completely disassociated from the book and seeks a permanent injunction against Tyndale House requiring it to do everything within reason to disassociate his name from the book," the complaint reads.
"Alex is not affiliated with the book. Alex is not connected to the book. Alex wants and has no association with the book."
It also reaffirms that the near-death experience contained in the book is "entirely false," noting that the young man does not remember anything from the coma.
A Tyndale representative meanwhile told The Washington Post that for years the publisher had been attempting to discuss the inaccuracies in the book with the family, but to no avail.
"On more than one occasion we asked for a meeting with Kevin, Beth, Alex and their agent to discuss and correct any inaccuracies, but Beth would not agree to such a meeting," the source argued.