Celebrity Justice - The FindLaw Celebrities and The Law Blog

March 2017 Archives

While the first quarter of 2017 has barely reached a close, the wave of celebrity burglaries that has rocked Hollywood this year has netted close to $3 million in stolen goods. The list of celebrity targets is both long and distinguished. Victims include notable personalities such as Alanis Morissette, Nicki Minaj, Kendall Jenner, Emmy Rossum, and Jaime Pressly.

The robbery at Morissette's home is reportedly the largest of the group, reporting a nearly $2 million dollar heist of jewelry. Comparatively, Jenner, Minaj, Rossum, and Pressly were only robbed of a few hundred thousand dollars' worth of jewelry. In many of the cases, the robbers got past security systems and safes.

A recent court order from the Federal District Court in New York has limited the issues moving forward in the few year old legal saga over whether Iron Man's most recent metal suit was stolen, intellectually speaking. No, Tony Stark didn't leave his suit behind on some school campus, but rather two former artists for the Marvel company, which is part of Disney, claim that the Iron Man franchise ripped off the artwork from their similar comic book hero, named Radix.

The court found that although there are quite a few similar elements, some of the basic or generic characteristics of superhero costumes and wardrobes are not protectable under copyright law. Things like capes, boots, flared gloves, goggles, gold titanium alloy crime fighting suits, and more, are all part of the usual expectation of what a superhero looks like and wears, and therefore a non-copyrightable elements. However, color schemes, designs, and logos may still enjoy protection.

Comedian Katt Williams is no stranger to the legal system and wild accusations. Most recently, a former assistant filed a lawsuit alleging that not only did the comedian underpay her, he verbally abused her, punched her, locked her in a hotel, and abandoned her in an Atlanta airport, fortunately not all at once. The former assistant worked for Williams from 2012 to 2016.

While Katt Williams has not issued a response to these allegations as of yet, it is known that the former assistant bringing these claims is the victim for whom Katt Williams was arrested and charged with battery for punching in July 2016. She is seeking an unspecified amount of damages stemming from that assault, where her injuries were indicated as severe, as well as the damages stemming from her employment with Williams.

Gary Goldman, the screenwriter for 90s classic science fiction film 'Total Recall,' has filed suit against Disney for allegedly stealing the characters, concepts, plot and sub-plots, verbatim dialogue, and even the name he created for his animated talking animals project, 'Zootopia.'

Goldman has alleged that he pitched his idea to Disney twice, once around 2000, and again almost a decade later. His lawsuit includes the drawings of his cute cartoon characters, alongside their alleged counterparts in the Disney film, in an attempt to show the striking similarities. Despite how cute the pleading may look, there are some real big allegations being cast at Disney.

When it comes to celebrities seeking special treatment for criminal acts, Roman Polanski should win an award of some kind, preferably along with a lengthy prison sentence. The fugitive director was alleged to have drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl, and he pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, back in 1977. However, Polanski became one of the most famous fugitives in the world when he fled the country before he completed his slap on the wrist of a sentence.

After having lived outside the US for the past 40 years, the now 83-year-old Polanski wants to return to the Los Angeles so he can visit his deceased wife's grave. However, he has taken the position with the court that he will only return if he is provided assurances that he will not be imprisoned. 

A San Francisco women's clothing and accessories business has sued Ivanka Trump's brand alleging claims of unfair competition. The claims stem from the marketing and promotion of Ivanka Trump's brand by herself and her husband, who are White House employees, as well as her father, President Trump, his advisor Kellyanne Conway, and even, media-favorite, Sean Spicer.

Basically, the San Francisco retailer is claiming that the promotion of Ivanka's Trump brand by those associated with the White House violates state and federal unfair competition laws, as well as the Constitution of the United States. Furthermore, the lawsuit seeks class action status on behalf of all other women's clothing retailers in California that are victims of Ivanka Trump's brand's unfair advantage due to its proximity to the president.

David Copperfield, the world famous magician, illusionist, and performer, is being sued, along with the Las Vegas venue where he performed his act, after one his popular tricks didn't go exactly as planned. While the illusion was successful, one of the audience participants tripped, fell, and hit his head, while the behind the scenes "magic" was happening.

The injury causing illusion took place back in 2013, and the case was originally set for trial this past January, but it has since been pushed back to October of this year. The plaintiff's attorneys are claiming that Copperfield's secret behind his trick will be revealed during trial, though Copperfield has managed to keep it out of the public eye thus far by keeping the record sealed due to it being proprietary information.

The Taylor Swift, or more accurately, the TAS Rights Management Company, has recently filed for several different trademarks including multiple iterations of the word "swiftie." In case you don't know, or couldn't just figure it out, a "swiftie" is a person who identifies as a Taylor Swift fan so much so that their fandom is actually a personality trait for them.

So what does the trademark filing mean? Despite reports claiming that Swift has various plans for using the newly trademarked terms, very little is actually known about her plans. Among the speculation, though, are claims that Swift may be planning to start a summer camp, or other educational service, activity, or event, as well as potentially marketing a video game similar to the Kardashian's highly criticized freemium app.

Actor James Woods has been sued because of a tweet he posted misidentifying an Ohio woman, Portia Boulger, as an Illinois Nazi and Trump supporter. As a result of the misidentification, the plaintiff, Ms. Boulger, became the victim of extreme harassment, both online and off, including threats to her personal safety.

Despite her requesting a retraction and apology through an attorney, James Woods exacerbated the situation and allegedly made further untruthful statements about Ms. Boulger via Twitter. To date, he has not apologized for his conduct, and based upon limited information, it appears that he plans to fight these allegations.

Did you read the news today? Well, last week anyway ... Sean Lennon, son of the Beatles frontman, was unable to get the parents of actress Marisa Tomei, who happen to be Lennon's NYC nextdoor neighbors, to see it his way, but nevertheless they were able to work it out. For nearly two years, the famous neighbors were fighting it out in court over whether Lennon should have to remove a massive 60 foot tall tree on his property that was literally destroying the Tomei's home with its roots.

Despite Lennon's insistence on just letting the tree be, he has dropped his appeal and finally agreed to comply with the September 2016 court order requiring him to remove the offending tree. Additionally, as part of the confidential settlement, Lennon will likely be paying a portion of the $14 million the Tomeis were seeking for the damage already done by the tree.

Rihanna, the pop mogul, and fashion and fragrance designer, has found herself facing a trademark infringement lawsuit over the name of her latest fragrance: Kiss by Rihanna. A cosmetics company named Kiss is asserting that Rihanna's latest fragrance, which they have absolutely nothing to do with manufacturing or selling, violates their trademark of the name Kiss as it relates to beauty products.

The Kiss cosmetics company has stated that Rihanna did not obtain permission or a license to use their trademarked name in connection with her fragrance, nor did she comply with the company's requests that Rihanna stop making and selling the fragrance under that name. As such, they had to file a lawsuit against the pop star.

The Olsen twins have come a long long way since their rise to child celebrity status. Although the twin sisters don't garner nearly the same amount of attention as they once did as Michelle Tanner, a recent lawsuit against the twins' fashion empire has put them center stage, but not in a good way.

Fortunately for the Olsens, the nightmare of bad press should be coming to a close very soon as they have recently settled the class action claims against them over allegations of illegal unpaid internships. Unpaid interns sued nearly two years ago, alleging they were misclassified as interns and should have been paid based on the work performed. The Olsens have denied the claims, and the settlement contains no admission of liability, but everyone knows what the littlest Tanner would say if she heard "no admission of liability." Her TV sister's famous words: "How rude!"

Just the name Snowden is polarizing. Hero, traitor, patriot, rat -- depending on your political leanings, any one of these can fit Edward Snowden in your mind. It turns out movies about Snowden, and his disclosure of mass NSA surveillance, can be just as divisive, legally speaking.

After a former Naval officer tried to sue makers of a Snowden documentary for "billions of dollars" to be paid to the entire populous of the United States, a slightly more specific lawsuit has been filed over the fictionalized film account. The film distribution company Wild Bunch is suing production company Vendian for $3 million it claims Vendian agreed (and allegedly failed) to pay for distribution of Oliver Stone's biopic "Snowden."

Molly Brazy, the 18-year-old rapper from Detroit, has the police investigating her after a Facebook-live video went viral. While the video itself doesn't seem to be anything more than a short exchange between her and a toddler while playing, what they were playing with caused the viral attraction.

In the short video, the toddler is shown asking for candy, then throwing a toy gun towards Brazy. Brazy, then, clearly in a playful, joking manner, picks up the toy and points it at the child. After the internet world went abuzz with controversy over whether the toy gun was real, police got involved.

The focus of the investigation is on whether the toy gun was real or not. Brazy could be facing child endangerment charges if it is determined that the gun was real. Despite the fact that Brazy is insisting it was not, police are committing resources to have the video analyzed.

Former workout guru to the stars and star herself of Bravo's fitness reality shows Work Out and Thintervention, Jackie Warner has talked candidly about her problems with drinking before. "I looked in the mirror one morning and realized that I did not like the person that I had become," she told Bravo last year. "I could no longer hide the fact that MY decisions were causing me unhappiness."

It doesn't look like she'll be any happier following her arrest last weekend, as Warner is now facing assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer charges.