Alex Malarkey, who became famous as 'The boy who came back from heaven' after he nearly died in a car accident, is suing the publishers of the book that made him famous because he was paid nothing for the story.
According to Courthouse News, Alex – now 20 and left a quadriplegic by the accident sustained in 2004 – is claiming Tyndale House Publishers has made millions of dollars from a book his father wrote that falsely claimed he died and went to heaven, where he spoke to Jesus and the devil.
He says he has seen none of the money and is reliant on social security payments and help from his mother to survive.
He says the publisher failed to confirm with him that the stories recounted in the book were true. He and his mother have both denied them publicly, with Alex writing in an open letter in January 2015: 'I did not die. I did not go to heaven. 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...I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.'
According to the papers seen by Courthouse News, Alex's father Kevin – now deceased – created a story that his son 'had gone to heaven, communicated with God the Father, Jesus, angels and the devil, and then returned'.
He and Alex's mother Beth became estranged after the publication of the book. According to the lawsuit, she and Alex are on the verge of being made homeless.
The lawsuit says: '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.'
The complaint also alleges the publisher has failed to cooperated with Alex and has declined to give details of revenue earned from the book. It says Tyndale House only agreed to do so if he agreed the publishing agreement – which he has never seen – was 'in effect and binding'.
Tyndale House said: 'This is a terribly unfortunate situation which deeply saddens all of us at Tyndale. Despite the claims in Alex Malarkey's lawsuit, Tyndale House paid all royalties that were due under the terms of our contract on his book, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. Tyndale took the book out of print in 2015 when Alex said that he had fabricated the entire story. Any books still available from online vendors are from third party sellers.'