All Articles Tagged "lawsuit"

Michael Brown’s Family To File Wrongful Death Civil Suit

March 5th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden. Photo via  Scott Olson/Getty Images

Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden. Photo via Scott Olson/Getty Images

It’s been nearly four months since a grand jury declined to criminally charge Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot unarmed Black teen Michael Brown last August and Brown’s family is seeking justice for the murder with a wrongful death lawsuit, The Guardian reports. The suit will be against Wilson and the city of Ferguson.

“We believe that there were other alternatives available to [Wilson],” Daryl Parks, attorney for Brown’s family, said at a news conference on Thursday, according to ABC News. “He did not have to kill Michael Brown.”

Anthony Gray, a second attorney for the Brown family, echoed Parks’ sentiments, “We plan to demonstrate in a court of law to reasonable-minded people that choice to use deadly force was unreasonable and unnecessary under those circumstances.”

This announcement comes one day after the Department of Justice declared that they will not be prosecuting Wilson for Brown’s death. “This outcome is supported by the facts we have found – but I also know these findings may not be consistent with some people’s expectations,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Gray, speaking on behalf of Brown’s parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, who attended the conference, but did not speak, noted that they “disagree with those findings.”

The scathing DOJ report, released on Wednesday, scolded the Ferguson Police Department, the law enforcement agency that Wilson once worked for, for targeting Black Americans with excessive ticketing and fines, motivated by profit-driven incentives to balance the city budget. Further, the Ferguson report found the overzealous use of racial jokes, stun guns and searches.

As for the wrongful death civil suit, the Brown family lawyers did not state when it will be filed, but the attorneys say the case will present a less muddled view of the facts.

“In our case we plan to show and outline pretty much the same evidence [as the Justice Department considered]. However, you will get a more clear, a more accurate picture of what took place that day,” Gray said.

No details of the suit are available as yet.

Funny Business? Ne-Yo Sues Ex-Business Manager For $8 Million

February 24th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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Source: AP

Source: AP

Ne-Yo isn’t too happy with his ex-business manager, so much so that he’s taking him to court. According to a lawsuit filed by Ne-Yo, Kevin Foster committed fraud and the superstar is seeking $8 million in damages.

The singer claims that Foster as well as  Vernon & Co., the consulting firm he worked for, moved money from his accounts without permission, forged loan documents, and even invested in a water company with Ne-Yo’s money, reports theJasmineBRAND.com. Ne-Yo filed a lawsuit against his former manager once before as well.

In all, Ne-Yo says Foster shifted $4.5 million out of his bank accounts as well as charged an additional $3.5 million in fees over the years. This is how Ne-Yo reached the $8 million he is seeking from the suit.

But none of this is true, counters Foster who says that while he did have control over Ne-Yo’s bank accounts he didn’t commit any fraud while managing the money, reports EURWeb. The court will soon decide who is telling the truth.

Didn’t know Ne-Yo was rolling in that kind of dough? Well, according to Celebrity Worth, Ne-Yo is currently worth about $16 million.

Octavia Spencer Wins Weight Loss Lawsuit

January 3rd, 2015 - By Courtney Whitaker
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Octavia Spencer is definitely a winner.

The actress won her lawsuit against Sensa Products, a weight-loss company she had an endorsement deal with. In the lawsuit, Spencer claimed the company wrongfully terminated her and ended her endorsement deal. Sensa claims her use of the hashtag #spon for “sponsored” while promoting their products negatively affected their campaign.

According to BET News:

The lawsuit goes on to state that it wasn’t in Spencer’s contract to not use the hashtag or get her tweets pre-approved. Spencer claimed she did more on her part to honor the deal by permitting Sensa to use before-and-after photos of her and advertisements in tabloids despite her reluctance. In addition, Spencer said she had lost the 20 pounds that she was required to lose as part of the deal.

“This was always about principle for our client, Ms. Spencer. She was taken advantage of by a company that is no stranger to misrepresentations,” Spencer’s attorney Bryan Freedman told The Hollywood Reporter. “I am very proud of Octavia’s will to fight.”

In the end, the judge ordered the company to pay $940,00 to Spencer. Reportedly the judgment was a default due to no representation by Sensa. The company is currently experiencing financial hardship. It may be a very a long time before Octavia sees any of her money.

Government Labor Watchdog Says McDonald’s Violated Workers Rights Over Protests

December 22nd, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com

Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com

Here’s something McDonald’s isn’t lovin’. According to the National Labor Relations Board, McDonald’s and franchise owners subjected workers to “discriminatory discipline” for participating in nationwide protests aimed at raising pay in the fast food industry. And the NLRB has filed several complaints against the fast food giant.

The NLRB’s general counsel says restaurant owners reduced hours and discharged some workers who joined in the movement. The employers also engaged in other “coercive conduct” against employees, such as surveillance, interrogations, and restricting worker’s ability to communicate with union reps.

Since vast majority of 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States are owned by franchisees, the company has been able to avoid taking responsibility for low wages and workplace violations at its restaurants. But these complaints name the head company–McDonald’s–along with its franchise owners as violators.

“The complaints issued today underscores what most everyone understands as common sense: That the company is responsible for the workers at its restaurants,” said Kendall Fells, an organizer with Fast-Food Fight for $15, one of the groups spearheading the protest movement.

The complaints came from 291 labor violations charges that have filed since November 2012, when the protests began. NLRB’s general counsel found merit in 86 of those cases.

“Today’s news makes it clear that the NLRB finds merit in the claim that McDonald’s is a joint employer because it exerts substantial power over franchisees,” said Mary Joyce Carlson, an attorney for Fast-Food Fight for $15.

McDonald’s said in a statement that it will fight the allegations, reports CNN. The company countered that the government agency “improperly and dramatically strike at the heart of the franchise system — a system that creates economic opportunity, jobs and income for thousands of business owners and their employees across the country.”

That trial will begin in March.

Hungarian Musician Sues Bey And Jay For Sampling Her Voice In “Drunk In Love”

December 16th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Radio station bans Jay Z's 'Drunk In Love' verse

Hungarian folk singer Monika Miczura Juhasz known by her artist name Mitsou, is suing Beyoncé, Jay Z and Timbaland for sampling her song “Bajba, Bajba Pelem (I Got Into Trouble)” in “Drunk In Love.” In a Manhattan civil suit, Mitsou claims the trio used and digitally manipulated her Hungarian Roma folk song as the acapella intro for their 2013 hit.

She also claims in her lawsuit, her song’s sample was used “to evoke foreign eroticism alongside the sexually intense lyrics performed by Beyoncé and Jay Z in ‘Drunk in Love.’” The suit further explains Mitsou’s vocal intro was recorded and revamped for 57 seconds and the sampled continued to play alongside Jay Z’s rap verse. Altogether, Mitsou’s vocals were featured in “Drunk In Love” for 1.5 minutes.

The original track, “Bajba, Bajba Pelem” was released under the title “Gypsy Life On The Road” in the United States by North Pacific Records in 1997. According the New York Post, Mitsou is an acclaimed Hungarian Roma singer who was discovered at 17 years old and performed around the globe at festivals and concerts. Mitsou claims friends notified her about “Bajba, Bajba Pelem” being used in Yoncé and Hov’s duet. The Post says Mitsou is seeking unspecified damages and, she notes, she never signed any documents to permit her song or voice to be used in advertising or trade materials.

Below you can listen to Mitsou’s “Bajba,Bajba Pelem” and The Carters’ “Drunk In Love.”

Bajba, Bajba Pélem (I Got into Trouble) | Listen for free at bop.fm

Do you hear any similarities between the two tracks?

Dad Angry Over Court Ruling That He Must Pay 21-Year-Old Daughter’s College Tuition

December 15th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Caitlyn Ricci, 21, may have left home but she still feels her parents should foot the bill for her college tuition. So she sued them and just last week a judge sided in her favor.

Caitlyn has been in court fighting August 2013. But now “a judge ruled that Michael Ricci and Maura McGarvey must pay $16,000 toward their daughter’s tuition for Temple University, where Caitlyn is a student,” reports Yahoo. Previously, another judge ruled the parents, who are divorced, must also pay for a community college she attended before transferring to Temple.

Michael decided to write his side of the events for Yahoo Parenting, and he said: “My daughter moved out, and I only ever see her in court. It’s certainly not what I wanted for my family.”

According to Caitlyn’s father she was kicked out of her Disney internship for underage drinking, and he and his wife punished her by having her do chores, abide by a curfew, and take summer classes. Caitlyn left home in February 2013 and went to her grandparents’. She sued for her college education and now Michael is upset that the court sided with his daughter.

“I am disappointed in the New Jersey Family court system for making parenting decisions for my daughter, as if they know what is best for her. The bottom line is, she made a mistake when she got kicked out of her internship program. There are consequences for her actions. She didn’t want to abide by our rules, so she left,” he wrote.

Michael says he’s so upset, he and his ex are trying to change local laws. He wrote: “My ex and I have met with legislators who are writing a new bill that protects parents from this happening again. Do you realize that if you are married in the state of New Jersey, you are not under any legal obligation to pay for college? But, if you get divorced, you must contribute?”

Caitlyn Ricci’s lawyer, Andrew Rochester, told Yahoo Parenting: “Since Caitlyn has moved in with her grandparents she has gotten into no trouble and her grades have gone up. She is a solid A/B college student and works a 30-hour job. Mr. Ricci should be proud of her accomplishments instead of disparaging because he doesn’t want to pay for her education…Mr. Ricci has made clear he wasn’t going to pay no matter what school Caitlyn went to. Mr. Ricci and Ms. McGarvey, based on their incomes, certainly have ability to pay, and we gave them options not to pay cash out of hand and they decided not to avail themselves of those options.”

So what are your thoughts on this situation? Should parents be obligated to pay for college if they have the means? Or should that be left to their discretion?

Disqualified ‘ANTM” Contestant Sues Tyra Banks For $3M

December 11th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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JD/WENN.com

JD/WENN.com

Disqualified America’s Next Top Model contestant Angelea Preston is suing host and producer Tyra Banks for $3 million over the prize she says she didn’t receive for winning cycle 17. According to Preston, she was dumped from the competition when the show found out she’d once worked as an escort. The CW Network is also named in the suit.

Preston actually competed on the show three times. Preston first appeared on the show during cycle 12 and lost. Then she came close during cycle 14, but was once again eliminated. She struck gold when cycle 17, when all the contestants were “all-stars.” She was among the final three and appeared to be a strong contender. But when the competition got to the final episode, viewers were told that there had been some sort of snafu and only the final two, Lisa D’Amato and Allison Harvard, would be considered. D’Amato won.

At the time, many speculated that Preston had blabbed about her win on social media before the show aired. Angry that the surprise had been let out of the bag, rumor was the show’s producers decided to go another way. The prize had a value of $100,000.

“…The assumption is correct. I did indeed win Cycle 17,” Preston told the site Sire Says. “Listen honey, I’m trying to write a book about my whole life and that part of my life is definitely, I mean my life is already interesting even before Top Model, I guess if you want to say, made me who I am or gave me my platform but, I guess that’s the part everybody wants to know. They want to know the real story.”

It’s a big leap from $100K to $3M, but I guess you have to start high so you can settle at a high number. And if we had to guess, we’re thinking this will get settled and for far less.

Here’s a video of Preston, in case you’ve forgotten who she is.

h/t Jezebel

‘American Idol’ Racism Lawsuit Dismissed; Contestants Waited Too Long

November 21st, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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The American Idol lawsuit has been voted out. Last year, 10 African-American former contestants sued Fox saying that their disqualifications from the long-running TV talent competition occurred out of racial animus.

In July 2013, the former contestants brought the lawsuit, which claimed the producers allegedly “dug up dirt on African-American contestants, had disseminated information from criminal rap sheets to the media in order to justify DQs,” reports The Hollywood Reporter. It also charged that the show was manipulated, and that the contestants were made to sign “unconscionable Willy Wonka contracts.”

But it seems the contestants made their claims too late. U.S District Judge Naomi Buchwald heard oral arguments earlier this month and said the plaintiffs waited too long to sue, even though it appears the plantiff did have a case.

“Here, each plaintiff’s claims run from the date of his disqualification, as the adverse and allegedly discriminatory act of disqualification or elimination from competition is sufficient to put a contestant on notice that he should ‘protect himself by seeking legal advice’ and therefore to trigger the statute of limitations,” wrote the judge.

The plaintiffs however countered that they didn’t realize there had been a racial element to their ousting until a statistical study was commissioned following the disqualification of season 11 alum Jermaine Jones. According to the study, the disqualifications couldn’t have happened by random decisions on the part of producers, that there is “a prima facie case of racial discrimination as a matter of law with absolute zero percent chance of error.”

But Judge Buchwald responded, “Apart from ignoring the clear law that knowledge of a discriminatory motive is irrelevant, plaintiffs have provided no explanation of how JXJ’s disqualification made apparent discrimination that was otherwise obscure; rather, they simply state that JXJ’s disqualification alone revealed an actionable disparity of treatment, ln a way that plaintiffs’ alleged ten prior disqualifications did not. This conclusory assertion is not sufficient to toll the limitations period.”

It sounds like it was a case that was hard to make, and they took too long to try and make it.

You Mad? Judge Rules New York Woman Can Keep $10,200 Engagement Ring After Indirect Proposal

October 24th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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One New York woman gets to keep the ring even if she’s tossing back the man.

A New York judge recently ruled, Debbie Lopez, 48, can keep the diamond ring — valued at $10,200 — that her ex-boyfriend, Joseph Torres, 52, gave her. Normally she would have to return the jewelry to Torres. Under New York state law if an engagement is called off, a woman must return her ring to the partner who proposed to her. In this interesting circumstance, Torres actually never proposed to Lopez. According to The New York Post, Lopez says  Torres gave her the ring as a token of appreciation. She said, “When he gave it to me, he said it was a gift for being a great woman, a good mother of his child.”

He says they had a romantic proposal at Rockerfeller Center in April 2010, where their son gave Lopez her engagement ring. Despite Torres’ account of the memorable event, Lopez said he never asked her directly to marry him. Lopez wore the ring on her left hand but she told friends, when they asked if she was engaged, “Maybe, I don’t know yet.”

The couple parted ways in 2012. Their case was reviewed by Judge Scott Fairgrieve, who ruled Lopez was not required to give back her rock because of Torres’s indirect proposal. Torres’s attorney claimed his client was devastated by the ruling and truly believed he and Lopez were engaged to be married. Although this is an unfortunate circumstance for both parties, I find it odd they did not communicate to each other the status of their relationship after the exchange of such an expensive ring.

Word to the wise fellas, be sure to ask, “Will you marry me?” Or your commitment-phobia could cost you.

h/t Cosmopolitan

Matthew Middleton, Co-Chair Of BESLA, Gives His Expert Opinion On Celebrity Legal Woes

October 23rd, 2014 - By Rochelle Burnley
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Matt @ BESLA 2012 SpeakingCelebrities make headlines when they find themselves in heaps of legal trouble. And that seems to happen often these days. We often read about someone in the limelight seeking legal counsel over a DUI, bankruptcy, copyright infringement, or tax liability issue. Matthew Middleton, attorney and chairman of the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA), has represented a variety of reality TV stars, songwriters and producers, as well as Grammy-award winning artists. His past clients include Kanye West, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Fabolous and the estate of the Notorious B.I.G where he negotiated the deal for the hit movie Notorious. BESLA is hosting their 34th Annual Conference in Playa Del Carmen through October 26.

Middleton talks with us about where all these legal troubles come from, sharing a bit of legal advice in the process.

MadameNoire: What are some of the most common legal woes that celebrities experience?
Matthew Middleton: It really stretches the whole gamut, but what we typically hear about are the things like the DWI case, being in possession of a controlled substance or being in possession of illegal weapons, the allegations of sexual or physical assault. Then you have clients that are going through very public or bitter divorces, child custody battles, and even now the unauthorized taping of private moments, sex tapes. They’re facing a lot of these issues today and now with social media, we just hear so much about all of these different matters.

MN: What preventative measures can they take to better protect themselves?
MM: Most celebrities are either creative people, personalities, or athletes so they’re not that well-versed in the law. That’s where having a good and competent lawyer on your team is invaluable because part of what we can try to do is educate our clients. A lot of the times celebrities, because they’re used to having their own way or because they’re well-known, when they encounter the police they try to talk their way out of the situation. Oftentimes, by making statements they’re further incriminating themselves. So it’s important for them to know when you are being confronted by the police or charged with an alleged crime, it’s probably best to just remain silent, call your attorney, and let your team handle it from there.

…Obviously, [with] celebrities because they’re in the public eye, there’s a lot of scrutiny. Everyone is watching to make sure that this certain celebrity isn’t being treated more favorably. A lot of times, I feel that the government, the court, or the police, they go overboard to make sure that the celebrity is not being treated more favorably. I wouldn’t say that they’re targeted because of the media attention and the fact that they live their life in the public eye. It’s just a heightened level of review.

MN: If they do find themselves in trouble, what are some ways that they can amend their situation?
MM: With celebrities, these things affect their brand. It affects their sponsorships, endorsements, their ability to remain on a team; there are just so many ramifications that celebrities are confronted with, you have to have the right team around you. A lot of times, when we are dealing with high-profile cases, we advise the client that they may have their normal publicist or PR rep as a part of the team; but when these situations arise we need to have a crisis management PR person as a part of the team. As a lawyer, you’re not only trying to fight for the best possible outcome in court, but now you’re also fighting in the court of public opinions. The court of public opinion may sometimes be more important than what comes out of the actual courtroom. The most paramount thing is to have the right team around you…and let them come up with the best strategy and deal with the matter.

MN: Is it common for most celebrities, in these circumstances, to avoid jail time due to their social status?
MM: I’ve seen it happen both ways. [Celebrities] have resources that they can avail themselves of to best deal with this matter. So when you have the “best people” involved, nine times out of 10, you get a better outcome than the average person who may not have those resources.

Sometimes, celebrities are sent to jail… because the judge or prosecutor want to be shown as being tough on crime. So they use them as an example… [M]aybe if it was an average person you would have been able to avoid jail time.

MN: How are the different offenses handled? Copyright infringement, bankruptcies, tax liabilities?
MM: Bankruptcy and civil matters like that, they’re more embarrassing and [have] more affect on the brand as opposed to affecting the celebrity’s way of life. They’re not going to affect their livelihood per se, but they’re affecting their image and their public persona. A civil matter you would deal with differently than a criminal matter.

MN: Can you tell us about BESLA?
MM: BESLA is the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association. This is our 34th year in existence. This is an organization of professional lawyers, some business professionals that work in entertainment, television/film, sports arena. The majority of our members either represent high-profile clients or work for companies or agencies that represent high-profile clients.

Our primary focus is to provide synergistic networking opportunities for professionals in this area so that we can network and share information. We have our annual conference where we put on panels and programs. We have experienced professionals come and share their experience and give advice.

A lot of people don’t know that the popular show Scandal is loosely based on an attorney who’s an experienced crisis management professional. She’s come to speak at our conference to share her experience and give advice to a lot of the lawyers or agents who are members of our organization.

We give out scholarships to deserving law students who show an interest in a career in this profession. Basically we are an organization trying to do whatever we can to promote the excellence of professionals in this industry and encourage diversity in this area as well.