All Articles Tagged "lawsuit"

Score One For BET: Network Comes Out The Winner In Lawsuit Over Fan’s Facebook Page For ‘The Game’

August 22nd, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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"The Game"Have you ever started a Facebook page for your favorite celebrity or product? Well, Stacey Mattocks did when in 2008 she opened a Facebook page for her favorite TV show, The Game. Her page became such a hit that  BET took notice and began to do business with Mattocks to promote the series. And with the help of Mattocks’ page the show’s popularity grew and the Facebook page garnered massive likes.

But things went south when BET wanted to take over the rights to the page. A messy lawsuit ensued last year. Finally a judgment has been rendered — and it could have a major impact on how we define who owns what on social media. A Florida judge has ruled that Facebook likes are not the property of page creators. According to the ruling, Mattocks can’t establish she owns a property interest in some 6.2 million likes she collected.

Mattocks had sued the Viacom-owned cable channel for “allegedly committing tortious interference, breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and copyright infringement,” reports The Hollywood Reporter. Mattocks later amended the lawsuit to add a claim of unlawful conversion.

In her lawsuit, Mattocks charged that BET initially agreed to pay her $30 per hour to work as a social media “freelancer” and later offered her an $85,000-a-year salary, which she turned down. According to Mattocks, BET pulled out all the stops to change her mind, even flying her out to Los Angeles for promotional interviews. But when she refused to transfer ownership of the fan page to BET, Facebook temporarily shut down her account.

What followed was a “Letter Agreement” with BET under which the network agreed that Mattocks wouldn’t be excluded from the page. In turn, she agreed to grant BET full administrative access. Mattocks says she signed the agreement under duress.

BET also tried to buy the page, offering $15,000; Mattocks requested $1.2 million, according to court papers. The negotiations continued and Mattocks dropped BET’s administrative access on the Facebook page from “manager” to “moderator.” BET, in turn, to issue a cease-and-desist letter. In the letter BET cited intellectual property and a demand to Facebook that it remove the page. This prompted Mattocks’ lawsuit.

“Based on the record, Mattocks cannot establish that she owns a property interest in the ‘likes’ on the FB Page,” writes the judge in an opinion (read more here). ” ‘Liking’ a Facebook Page simply means that the user is expressing his or her enjoyment or approval of the content. At any time, moreover, the user is free to revoke the ‘like’ by clicking an ‘unlike’ button. So if anyone can be deemed to own the ‘likes’ on a Page, it is the individual users responsible for them. Given the tenuous relationship between ‘likes’ on a Facebook Page and the creator of the Page, the ‘likes’ cannot be converted in the same manner as goodwill or other intangible business interests.”

The judge also dismissed Mattocks’ tortious interference claim, writing: “While BET may also have had other financial motives in disabling the Page and Twitter account, no record evidence shows that BET took these steps for purely malicious reasons.”

So remember, if you thinking to make money off a Facebook page for a product or other person, according to this judgment you have no legal ownership of pages’ likes. Be sure you know what’s yours and focus on monetizing those elements. Everything else belongs to users, Facebook and the Internet.

Chicago Woman Sues Plastic Surgeon For Labeling Before Photos As “Cocaine Nose”

August 1st, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Cocaine Nose

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Chicago woman Sabrina Kropp has filed a lawsuit against her plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Walton, for posting photos of her nose prior to having plastic surgery on his website labeled “cocaine nose.”

The Chicago Tribune says Dr. Walton took the photos of Kropp in 2004. At the time, the two had an understanding that the images of Kropp would be secure in her medical records. Despite this agreement, Dr.Walton  used the photos to advertise his new practice, Plastic Surgery Chicago LLC. Dr. Walton published the photos of Kropp on his site in 2013. According to Dr. Walton’s website, the definition of a “cocaine nose” is:

“Cocaine causes a constriction or closing of blood vessels. When cocaine is snorted through the nose, it causes the blood vessels in the nasal lining to constrict. Chronic cocaine usage can result in prolonged constriction of the nasal lining blood vessels with resultant death of these tissues. This results in sores in the nasal lining and septum that can lead to perforations of the septum, infection, loss of supporting cartilage, scarring and eventual collapse of the nose. Unique to the cocaine injured nose is the relative sparing of the external skin cover.”

Reading that description it’s not hard to see why Kropp, who is suing Dr. Walton’s medical practice for breaching the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), is so upset. HIPAA requires an individual’s written authorization before medical information is used for publication, marketing, teaching or commercial purpose.

Kropp alleges that Dr. Walton’s decision to use her photos on his site have caused her “to become distressed, shamed and embarrassed.” Since, filing her suit Kropp’s photos have been deleted from Dr. Walton’s medical site, but thanks to the Smoking Gun, you can still see them here.

Ne-Yo Sues His Accountant For $8M, Alleges Money Was Invested Without Permission

August 1st, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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The Money Can’t Buy R&B crooner Ne-Yo is accusing his former accountant Kevin Foster of sneaky schemes and he’s suing him for $8 million, Eurweb reports.

Foster was Ne-Yo’s “manager, confidant, trusted adviser and friend,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan Federal Court. Yet, Ne-Yo — real name Shaffer Smith —  claims that Foster has been slipping money from his bank account since 2005.

The lawsuit alleges that Foster forged Smith’s signature on loan documents and invested the singer’s money in a water company that was on the brink of bankruptcy. In other words, Ne-Yo had no idea, according to the Daily News, that he was the president and chief financial officer of a troubled business.

It was only after Ne-Yo hired an accounting firm that he discovered Foster’s engagement in “self-dealing and inappropriate conduct,” The Daily News says.

Foster, Ne-Yo says, swindled him out of $4.5 million. The three-time Grammy award winner is also asking for an additional $3.5 million for fees he had paid for Foster’s services.

According to the lawsuit, Foster’s job was to “ensure Smith was financially situated as to maintain his accustomed lifestyle for the remainder of his life, protect Smith from financial ruin, and mitigate risk of frivolous spending.” The implication, of course, is that he did the opposite.

“Apparently, money can’t buy a good accountant,” EurWeb joked.

New Edition Sued By Former Managers For $500,000

July 30th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Hugh Dillon/

Hugh Dillon/WENN.comd

Benchmark Entertainment, a management company whose founders have represented stars including Erykah Badu and Green Day, is suing the group New Edition for $500,000.

The company says it was hired in 2012 and got them three concerts last year and a concert tour this year. Benchmark says it was paid its 12.5 percent in 2013, but hasn’t been paid this year for work that’s worth at least half a million dollars. Benchmark says its work includes setting up radio interviews and merchandising deals.

The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court this week.

Ronny DeVoe, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell and Mike Bivens are on tour now and will be until they do their last show in Los Angeles on August 3. Bobby Brown left the tour a few weeks ago after it became apparent he couldn’t keep up with the group’s dance moves and actually left the stage during a Mississippi performance.

There’s been no further comment on the lawsuit.

Man Trying To Rob A Pizzeria Sues Over Injuries He Suffered While Being Subdued

July 25th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Nigel Sykes tried to rob Delaware’s Seasons Pizza restaurant in 2010 but failed. Rather than getting away with the money — $140 that a delivery driver gave him — he was wrestled to the ground. His gun fired a shot that missed a worker and hit a garbage can, but was taken from him.

Sykes, who is 23 years old, admits to the crime and is in jail serving a 12-to-15-year sentence for robbery and attempted robbery. At the time of his arrest, he was facing 51 charges of robbery, attempted robbery and weapons possession. He pleaded guilty.

But he says he was “unarmed and defenseless” when he was attacked by all of the Seasons Pizza workers. He says he was punched, kicked, hot soup was poured on him and he was knocked unconscious. And as he was coming to, he realized the police had handcuffed him and tasered him. Then he was denied medical attention for eight hours and an officer used a racial slur.

It should be noted that Sykes’ story changed between his first complaint and the current one. In the first one, he said he was held at gunpoint and forced to commit the robbery. And he claims he was beaten with pots and pans. The first complaint was tossed out over procedural issues.

But this second complaint has been given the go-ahead in court.

“Sykes demands $20,000 each from six Seasons employees, $20,000 from each of the two arresting officers and $100,000 from Seasons,” says USA Today.

Attorneys for the cops in this case are trying to have it tossed because of statute of limitations issues. Of course they also think it’s crazy that an admitted robber would be able to sue for getting hurt while trying to commit a crime. One worker was traumatized for some time by the event.

So what do you think? Should Sykes be allowed to sue?

Johns Hopkins To Pay $190M For Gynecologist’s Pics Of Patients

July 24th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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This might make you want to skip your next GYN visit. A gynecologist in Baltimore was secretly video taping his patients visits. And now one of the world’s most renowned medical centers must ante up $190 million in a settlement to his victims. And there were plenty of victims–8,000 women and girls to be exact.

Dr. Nikita Levy used a tiny camera shaped like a pen to record videos and photos without his female patients’ knowledge. When this was discovered by a female co-worker, he was fired after 25 years with the Johns Hopkins Health System in February 2013.  A few days later, Levy committed suicide, reports EUR This ‘N That.

Later, an investigation found about 1,200 videos and 140 images of patients stored on computers in Levy’s home. One of the plaintiffs’ attorney Howard Janet indicated there were 62 girls among the victims.

“All of these women were brutalized by this,” said their lead attorney, Jonathan Schochor. “Some of these women needed counseling, they were sleepless, they were dysfunctional in the workplace, they were dysfunctional at home, they were dysfunctional with their mates. This breach of trust, this betrayal — this is how they felt.”

So now John Hopkins has opted for a settlement, a major one to try to compensate the victims for this unbelievable violation of their privacy. This preliminary settlement was recently approved by a judge and is said to be one of the largest ever on record for sexual misconduct of a physician, reports The Huffington Post.  “Each plaintiff was interviewed by a forensic psychologist and a post-traumatic stress specialist to determine how much trauma she suffered and how much money she will receive,” reports The Boston Herald.

Some of the victims have not been identified–it would be nearly impossible to do so. According to the lead attorney for the victims, there were thousands of women and girls traumatized and it would inflict more distress to have them “sit around a table and try to identify sexual organs without pictures of faces,” according to Schochor.

Smoker’s Widow Awarded $23.6 Billion In Lawsuit Against RJ Reynolds

July 22nd, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Katherine Welles /

Katherine Welles /

Right on the heels of news that it was purchasing the world’s No. 3 cigarette maker, Lorillard, RJ Reynolds has been ordered to pay $23.6 billion in a landmark lawsuit. The figure is 230 times what the plaintiff was asking for, more than $100 million.

The widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996, Cynthia Robinson, brought the suit against the No. 2 tobacco company. And now a Florida jury has sided with her and has directed RJ Reynolds to fork over  $23.6 billion in punitive damages.

“The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 tossed out a $145 billion class action verdict,” reports The Huffington Post. Under that ruling smokers and their families had to only prove addiction and that smoking led to their illnesses or deaths.

A Pensacola jury awarded the multi-billion-dollar award after a four-week trial. The tobacco company must also pay an additional $16.8 million in compensatory damages. According to Robinson’s attorneys, the punitive damages are the largest of any individual case tied to the original class action lawsuit.

In 2008, Robinson individually sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.on behalf of her late husband, Michael Johnson Sr. “The jury wanted to send a statement that tobacco cannot continue to lie to the American people and the American government about the addictiveness of and the deadly chemicals in their cigarettes,” said one of the woman’s attorneys, Christopher Chestnut.

Robinson maintains that her husband wasn’t given all of the details about what’s in cigarettes, thereby denying him of the ability to make an informed choice. A clip played in court shows execs saying cigarettes aren’t addictive, contradicting statements in corporate documents.

Of course, RJ Reynolds is not too happy. Its vice president and assistant general counsel, Jeffery Raborn, claimed the damages were “grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law.”

“This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented,” Raborn said. “We plan to file post-trial motions with the trial court promptly, and are confident that the court will follow the law and not allow this runaway verdict to stand.”

“Treme” Star Rob Brown Settles “Shop-And-Frisk” Suit Against Macy’s & New York City

July 21st, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Dimitri Halkidis / WENN

Dimitri Halkidis / WENN

You may remember Treme actor Rob Brown “shop-and-frisk” experience. It was covered widely in the media during a period where there seemed to be a rash of racial profiling cases of shoppers of color.

While shopping for a gift for his mother at Macy’s Herald Square location in midtown Manhattan, the HBO actor was falsely accused of suing a fake credit card to by a $1,300 watch for his mother.

Brown went on to sue the retail chain along with the city of New York, as the incident involved New York policemen. Now Brown, 30, has agreed to a settlement.  “The court has been informed that the parties have reached a settlement in principle,” Manhattan Federal Judge Lorna Schofield wrote  with regard to Brown’s twin actions against the department store and the city, reports The New York Daily News.

A spokeswoman for Macy’s would only reiterate that public announcement, “The lawsuits by various plaintiffs who alleged racial profiling by Macy’s have been settled in principle. We are making no further comment.”

Brown, who also appeared in the 2000 movie Finding Forrester, said he was handcuffed, “paraded” through the store and detained on June 8, 2013. His suit charged Macy’s and the city with false imprisonment, negligent training and civil rights allegations and sought unspecified money damages and a court order forcing Macy’s and the NYPD to stop the alleged practice of targeting minorities who shop at high-end stores.

There were further charges by other shoppers at Macy’s who claimed to be victims of racial profiling.  And a customer of Barneys New York also filed a shop-and-frisk lawsuit. The Rev. Al Sharpton later met with reps from various retail stores to speak about the problem and to insist on retraining of store staff. He drew up a “Customers Bill of Rights” he urged the stores to comply with.

As far as Brown’s lawsuit, his lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, did not offer the terms of the settlement.

A lawyer for the city said, “A settlement has been reached in principle, but the details are still being finalized.”

Wigdor also represents other people who have brought or who intend to bring lawsuits over similar Macy’s incidents. Those cases have also been settled in principle.

GOP Sets Ball In Motion To File Suit Against President Obama

July 16th, 2014 - By Samantha Callender
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New York City newspaper refers to Obama as 'The N****r In The White House' in op-ed headline.

Source: WENN

“So sue me,” were the words President Obama said to Republicans last week after explaining his plans to take executive action without the support of the GOP, who he feels are stalling pressing matters such as healthcare reform.

Specifically, Republicans plan to sue President Obama over his decision to delay a requirement in the health care law for businesses to provide coverage to employees. One senior administration official also pointed out that the same lawmakers who are filing a suit against Obama for his action ultimately voted (last July) to do the exact same thing at the exact same time.

House Republicans (led by Speaker John Boehner) plan to move forward with a lawsuit against Obama with claims that he is abusing his executive power. However, it’s been noted a number of times that President Obama has issued far fewer executive orders than other presidents, including those like Ronald Reagan who are highly supported by conservative Republicans.

“That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own,” Boehner said in a statement.

The GOP has been very open about the fact that they hate the sweeping healthcare law, and claim that Obama changed the law’s employer mandate on his own. By the end of the month, the Republican-led House is expected to have voted on a resolution to have authorized legal action to taken against the President in what would be The House v. Obama. The process began today with constitutional lawyers appearing before lawmakers to explain why the lawsuit should and shouldn’t move forward.

The White House released a statement expressing disappointment in the lawsuit, and calls the action taken by the GOP a “political stunt.”

“As the President said today, he is doing his job — lawsuit or not — and it’s time Republicans in Congress did theirs,” the statement said.

Also pointing out how taxpayers dollars are going to be going towards the lawsuit, the White House press secretary adds, “At a time when Washington should be working to expand economic opportunities for the middle class, Republican leaders in Congress are playing Washington politics rather than working with the President on behalf of hardworking Americans.”

Many disagree with the move, including minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who calls the move “another toxic partisan stunt.”

Others question why the lawsuit includes nothing about the immigration reform the President recently took executive action to implement, even though that has been another area which the GOP and Obama have been butting heads.

Some believe it is based solely on the fact that the Republican party blatantly dislikes the President and his reforms, and not so much about protecting the constitution. The GOP, of course, suggests it’s not.

“It’s not about Republicans versus Democrats. This is about the legislative branch that’s being disadvantaged by the executive branch. And it’s not about executive actions. Every president does executive orders. [It’s about Obama] basically rewriting law to make it fit his own needs,” says Boehner.

Gospel Artists Sue Katy Perry For Copyright Infringement, Say Their Song Is Now Associated With The Illuminati

July 3rd, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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As per normal, musicians sample one another’s music and, while “borrowing” ideas is one thing, wholesale taking a sound without offering credit or payment for usage can land you in trouble. We hear about lawsuits all the time from artists claiming that someone or another stole their work. The question is always whether it’s true.

St. Louis hip hop Christian musicians Flame — born Marcus Gray, and Chike Ojukwu along with Lecrae Moore, of Atlanta, and Emanuel Lambert, of Aldan, Pa — allege in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in federal court that Katy Perry (nee Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson), her producers and songwriters have  infringed upon the copyright of their song “Joyful Noise” for her latest hit, “Dark Horse.” And in so doing, they have brought evil to their music.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the musicians also believe Perry exploited their song while profiting from it. The lawsuit states, “’Joyful Noise’ has been irreparably tarnished by its association with the witchcraft, paganism, black magic, and Illuminati imagery evoked by the same music in ‘Dark Horse’.”

Also included along with Katy Perry are Juicy J (born Jordan Michael Houston); Dr. Luke, born Lukasz Gottwald; Max Martin; Cirkut, born Henry Russell Walter; Sarah Theresa Hudson; and Capitol Records LLC.

Orginally written in 2007 and debuting in 2008, “Joyful Noise” received a nomination for the Gospel Music Association Dove Award. The album “Our World: Redeemed” that featured “Joyful Noise” received a Grammy Nomination for the best rock or rap gospel album too.

Eric Kayira,  a lawyer for the hip hop musicians, says the beat of “Joyful Noise” was “percolated” online. Therefore, he believes the gospel song was “leaked” on the internet and then shared with Katy Perry. “Joyful Noise” was released five years prior to “Dark Horse.”

Katy Perry’s publicist has not responded on behalf of Perry on these allegations. Below is “Joyful Noise” and “Dark Horse.” The two songs sound similar but perhaps not enough to win a lawsuit. You be the judge.