With the lawsuit against Steven Baldwin freshly decided in his favor, Kevin Costner is embroiled again in another legal battle: this time, with his neighbor.
Costner’s Carpinteria, California neighbor Rick Grimm, an investment banker, has filed a lawsuit over the trees and shrubs planted by Costner to protect his privacy, which now block Grimm’s ocean view. Apparently, covenants on the properties established in 1957 prevent hedges from being grown over six (6) feet.
The neighbor is seeking $150,000 damages for loss of enjoyment and $500,000 for damages to his property value if the trees are not removed. Grimm also wants an order compelling Costner to chop down the trees.
If Costner did violate the convenants restricting use of the land, then it will be very difficult for him to win this lawsuit. Generally, it is hard to challenge covenants and succeed, because they are usually established by the devleopers of their property long before warring neighbors take title and ownership to their houses.
David Cassidy’s lawsuit against Sony over royalties from the Partridge Family shows no signs of slowing down.
Right now, Sony & Cassidy are arguing about whether the case should be tried to a jury, or decided by an arbitrator.
The biggest drawback to arbitration is that an arbitrator, who is not a judge, has total control in deciding the outcome of the cases. Unlike a court or jury trial, arbitrations cannot be appealed. Further, in arbitrations, under certain circumstances, the party who wins can ask for their attorneys’ fees — which is the opposite of the American justice system, which does not adopt the “loser pays” rule.
Apparently, because Cassidy once signed an agreement with Sony that included an arbitration provision, Sony is asking the court to dismiss the case and compel arbitration. Continue reading
Former “That 70′s Show” star and Lindsay Lohan hearthrob Wilmer Valderrama has been sued for being a bad neighbor. Apparently, Valderrama has been throwing “wild parties” at his home, refusing to take his neighbor’s noise complaints seriously.
Valderrama’s legal woes raise a good point – what can you do when you get stuck with a bad neighbor?
Rentals and Condos. It is generally easier dealing with a bad neighbor when living in apartment communities, condos, or townhouse properties. Usually, the property management sets forth rules requiring quiet hours between certain times, like 10 PM – 6 PM, and prohibiting music or noise to be heard from outside of the tenant’s unit. Tenants are obligated to abide by rules and regulations when they move in, and violations are generally assessed as fines against the property owner.
Homes and Homeowners. But when living next door to a noisy homeowner, there are fewer options. Noise violations can be reported to local non-emergency law enforcement authorities, or a private security company, if one is hired by a homeowner’s association or community. However, the only real legal option is to bring a lawsuit for nuisance, similar to the one that was brought against Valderrama. Nuisance lawsuits essentially make a claim that a propertyowner engages in such offensive activity on the property that it prevents the complaining neighbor from quiet enjoyment of their own property
Nuisance lawsuits are not easy to prove, and damages usually are not recoverable — meaning that the relief given to the complaining party is often an injunction, which is basically a permanent restraining order barring the noisy neighbor from making more noise. But, if the noisy neighbor disregards the injunction order, the affected neighbors usually have to go back to court and ask that the court hold contempt proceedings or issue sanctions for the noisy neighbor’s disobedience of court order. It can all be very expensive.
Alternative non-legal ways of handling noisy neighbors is attempting to talk to them, or making requests in writing. But these can lead to friction and confrontation, especially if there are age, lifestyle, or other disparities between the neighbors. For Valderrama’s neighbor, talking did not work, neither did writing letters. Lawsuits are often the last resort, but sometimes they may be the only way to get uncoooperative neighbors to pay attention.
MTV’s Real World/Road Rules star Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio has lost the lawsuit against HBO, over the rights to the nick-name “Johnny Bananas.” Devenanzio alleged that HBO’s “Entourage” used his nick-name when referring to the fake cartoon gorilla played by Kevin Dillon’s character.
The New York judge overseeing the suit dismissed the case. Apparently, Devenanzio didn’t file the “Johnny Bananas” lawsuit until 14 months after the first air date of the episode – in New York, the statute of limitations (the time frame in which a lawsuit for Devenanzio’s claims can be brought) is only 1 year.
Some news sources are calling Devenanzio a crybaby for suing over this, but owners of trademarks, copyrights, and other brand-names often must sue to protect their intellectual property rights.
In the intellectual property legal world, failing to enforce rights that you believe are yours can lead to “dilution,” meaning that your mark or brand becomes so diluted or commonplace that the rights become lost. Some good examples are Band-Aid or Kleenex. Someone needing a finger bandage or tissue paper would likely say “Give me a band-aid,” or “Give me a kleenex.” But these product names are actually brand names - “Band-Aid brand bandages” and “Kleenex brand tissue paper.” But because the brand names have been used as substitutes for the product names for so long, it is difficult to separate the two – leading to a loss of the ability to enforce the intellectual property rights associated with “Band-Aid” or “Kleenex.”
If Devenanzio really intends to secure for himself the intellectual property rights to “Johnny Bananas,” then he needs to focus on strengthening that brand, filing the necessary trademark applications, and confirming that he is the rightful owner of the “Johnny Bananas” brand — before he sues anybody else again.
A fourth accuser has stepped forward and alleged sexual misconduct against John Travolta. To recap, the first accuser has now hired maven lawyer Gloria Allred after dismissing his original lawsuit; the second has agreed to a private mediation of his claim, meaning that the lawsuit will not go forward publicly and its ultimate resolution will be confidential; and the third involves a Royal Caribbean cruise employee. All four accuse Travolta of sexual improprieties ranging from “sexual battery,” meaning that Travolta inappropriately touched the accusers, without their consent, to claims that Travolta made threats, bribes, and offered payments for sexual activity.
This Daily Mail article offers a thoughtful and sympathetic commentary on Travolta for having the misfortune of having his personal life and questions about his sexual orientation persist on the front page news. Although a number of celebrities have now come forward in support of keeping Travolta’s personal life, sexual orientation, and other personal details private, the issue may not be how Travolta handles his personal life, but rather, whether he has been involved in committing sexual battery, assault, and harrassment.
Candy Spelling Files 500K+ Lawsuit Against Auctioneer Over Contract to Auction Spelling’s Vintage Doll Collection
Candy Spelling, Tori Spelling’s mother, has filed a lawsuit suing an auction company, Theriault’s, alleging she was ripped off in the contract she signed with them to sell her extensive doll collection.
Spelling, self described as a “social commentator, socialite, and philanthropist” alleges that she gave the extensive doll collection to Theriault’s for sale, but that they cannot account for what has been sold, unsold, and how much is due to Spelling. Spelling fired them and cancelled the contract, demanding return of the unsold dolls, and alleges that Theriault’s refuses to return them.
According to the lawsuit papers, “Spelling entrusted Theriault’s with possession of the Spelling Collection for the sole and limited purpose of conducting professional auctions featuring the Spelling Collection. However, after receiving possession of the Spelling Collection, Theriault’s repeatedly failed to provide Spelling with timely and complete accounting of what items had been sold at auction, what items remained unsold and the correct amount owed to Spelling based on the sale of her property.
Spelling’s suit alleges that Theriault’s not only breached the contract, but also of “conversion,” which is legalese for theft. Spelling is asking for $500,000 in damages, punitive damages, interest, and any other relief the judge may award.
There are some pictures of Spelling’s doll collection available online. As the pictures show, “vintage” apparently does not always mean “desirable.”
You would think that it would be clear by now – it is not permissible (nor legal) to use celebrities’ names, pictures or likenesses to sell your products or services, unless they consent. Last week, there were two fresh “Right of Publicity” allegations that surfaced:
In the first, Hollywood gossip website TMZ reported that a local Mexicali plastic surgeon, Victor Ramirez, decided to promote his services by putting up a billboard of Kim Kardashian wearing a bikini, without her knowledge or approval.
Earlier in the week, True Blood star (Sam Merlotte’s shape-shifter girlfriend) and “The L Word” actress Janina Gavankar sued a LA clothing company, claiming that the company used her image to promote its plus-sized clothing line, without her permission.
All of this is, of course, entirely unauthorized if the actresses did not agree to have their names and likenesses promoted in this manner. In California, individual privacy rights include the “right of publicity,” and makes it illegal for companies or individuals to use the names or likenesses of others, without their permission.
To be successful, claimants must generally demonstrate that there was a use, for profit, of the individual’s identity, without consent, that resulted in injury to the individual. There are several exceptions, such as the use of or likeness to report news-worthy events, or a use that is so “transformative” that its primary value is not derived from the celebrity’s fame.
The Plastic Surgery billboard does not appear to make the cut (no pun intended). Although TMZ reported that KK was considering whether to bring suit, the big issue is probably going to be whether it is worth the time to pursue Dr. Ramirez thorugh the Mexican court system.
For Gavankar, on the other hand, it may be too early to tell. Her lawsuit against Jasmine USA and its CEO, David Youshouafar, is underway LA Superior Court for now, and it will be seen whether the allegations are fact or fiction.
The much-maligned Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and its senatorial sibling, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) have, at least for now, met an abrupt demise. The huge public protests by internet trailblazonaires and activists, accompanied by “blackouts” staged by Google, Wikipedia, and other major sites, turned the tides against lawmakers almost overnight. As some reports noted, the rare display of public participation took lawmakers by surprise, and once anti-SOPA sentiments rippled through the country, the Congressional representatives who originally introduced the bill found themselves alone, without support, and abandoned the bill. By last Thursday, SOPA and PIPA were declared DOA, well in advance of the vote that was previously scheduled to take place today. In the end, the death of SOPA/PIPA was by some reports attributed to the power of public participation in the democratic process. These idealistic commentaries, however, may be ignoring the reality that the fight over SOPA/PIPA was very much a brawl between powerful corporate giants with strong conflicting interests. Caught in the fray, Americans would be wise to mute the rhetoric advanced by both sides when the next incarnation of SOPA/PIPA arises, and take a careful look at the true motivations fueling the debate, as well as the practical effects that stronger copyright enforcement laws would actually have for ordinary netizens.