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Law & Litigation Blog

Marlon Wayans Prevails in Unusual Lawsuit by a Movie Extra

Marlon Wayans recently scored a big win in California's 2nd District Court of Appeal. The case started when Pierre Daniel, a movie extra from the set of Haunted House 2, sued Wayans in Los Angeles Superior Court. Daniel was upset because Wayans posted a side-by-side picture of him and Cleveland Brown, the fictional cartoon character from the TV show Family Guy, claiming that they looked alike. This is the tweet Wayans posted:

celebrity-lawsuit

Daniel was not happy, to say the least. Or perhaps he thought this was his golden ticket. He hired a lawyer and sued Wayans. The lawsuit alleged racial harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, misappropriation of likeness, invasion of privacy, breach of quasi contract and unjust enrichment. He claimed to have been so traumatized that he could no longer work as an actor. Sound like a bit of a stretch? An overreaction? A frivolous lawsuit? Well, the Judge thought so. He dismissed the lawsuit, in part because...it's true! The Judge recognized that the two do look somewhat alike. More significantly, Wayans's tweet was constitutionally protected free speech. The Judge concluded that "[t]he Cleveland Brown character, like [Pierre], obviously black, heavy ... with curly 'Afro' hair were all incorporated humorously into the filming of the scene." 

Daniel appealed, but to no avail. The Court of Appeals ruled in Wayans's favor, affirming the Trial Court's dismissal of the lawsuit.

 

Alex Durst is a Cincinnati civil litigation attorney and appellate attorney with The Durst Law Firm. Licensed in Ohio, Alex has also practiced in Missouri, Florida, Indiana, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Kentucky. Alex can be reached at (513) 621-2500 or alex@durstlawfirm.com.