See you in court
February 19, 2020

George Zimmerman, who in 2013 was acquitted after being charged with murder for his fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, has filed a lawsuit against two Democratic presidential candidates seeking $265 million in damages. The complaint, reported Wednesday, accuses Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg of defamation.

At issue are tweets each candidate posted on what would have been Martin's 25th birthday in early February:

The posts were made "for political gain in misguided and malicious attempts to bolster their standings amongst African-American voters, all at Zimmerman's expense," the lawsuit filing claims, arguing the timing was merely "a pretext to demagogue and falsely brand Zimmerman as a white supremacist and racist to their millions of Twitter followers."

Zimmerman is already suing Martin's family, including his mother, whom Warren tagged in her tweet. That lawsuit seeks $100 million in damages and alleges falsified testimony. Bonnie Kristian

February 12, 2020

Nissan has slapped its former CEO, who fled Japan while awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges, with a civil lawsuit.

The automaker is suing former chair and CEO Carlos Ghosn in Japan for 10 billion yen, or $90 million, saying it's seeking to recover damages from his alleged financial misconduct and fraud, The New York Times reports.

Ghosn at the end of last year evaded Japanese authorities and fled to Lebanon while facing charges of financial misconduct, including allegedly underreporting his income. At the time, the former Nissan executive, who has denied the charges, said he had "not fled justice — I have escaped injustice and political persecution."

Nissan had already filed a civil case against Ghosn in the British Virgin Islands; this new lawsuit concerns the costs of what Nissan alleges to be Ghosn's "corrupt practices" and of the company's internal investigation, The Associated Press reports.

After Ghosn's news conference last month placing blame on Nissan, the company on Wednesday also threatened to pursue more legal action against him for his "groundless and defamatory" remarks, Reuters reports. In response to the lawsuit Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ghosn told the Times, "Nissan's maneuvers continue." Brendan Morrow

January 22, 2020

One of the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination this year is now suing the last one.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has filed a defamation lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for suggesting in an interview last year that she's a "Russian asset."

Clinton during a podcast appearance in October said that an unnamed Democratic candidate for president is "the favorite of the Russians." She then said that Jill Stein is "also a Russian asset," seeming to suggest the unnamed Democrat is one as well. While Clinton didn't mention the candidate she was referring to, when later asked if she was talking about Gabbard, her spokesperson told CNN, "If the nesting doll fits."

Gabbard at the time tore into Clinton as the "queen of warmongers" in response to her comments, and she demanded in November that Clinton "immediately hold a press conference to verbally retract — in full — your comments," as well as release a statement saying she made a "grave mistake" and that "I support and admire" Gabbard's work. Clinton did not do so.

The lawsuit filed against Clinton contends that her comments caused Gabbard "to lose potential donors and potential voters" and that she "has suffered significant actual damages, personally and professionally, that are estimated to exceed $50 million — and continue to this day." The campaign is seeking "compensatory damages and an injunction prohibiting the further publication of Clinton's defamatory statements." Clinton hasn't commented on the lawsuit. Brendan Morrow

December 5, 2019

Comments made by Tucker Carlson on his show last December just got Fox News hit with a lawsuit.

Karen McDougal, the model who alleges she had an affair with President Trump beginning in 2006, has filed a slander lawsuit against Fox News after Carlson said on his show last year, "Two women approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn't give them money," Variety reports. "Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion." The New York Times notes Carlson didn't use McDougal's name, but he put a picture of her on screen later in the segment.

In the lawsuit, McDougal says she did not approach Trump and threaten to ruin his career like Carlson said but instead sold her story to the National Enquirer for $150,000. Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, has said he reimbursed American Media Inc., the owner of the National Enquirer, in order to keep McDougal quiet about the alleged affair.

In the segment, Carlson's guest took issue with his characterization of events, saying, "We don't know that there was actual extortion here ... that hasn't been proven yet, nor has it even really been alleged." Carlson responded, "I'm alleging it because it's obvious ... it clearly is extortion."

"Carlson's statements were intentionally false and made with reckless disregard for the truth," the lawsuit says. Fox News says it will "vigorously defend Tucker Carlson against these meritless claims." Brendan Morrow

November 14, 2019

It smells like court spirit for Marc Jacobs. A California judge is allowing Nirvana to proceed with a copyright infringement lawsuit against the designer for his "reinterpreted" use of the band's happy face logo.

In December 2018 Nirvana sued Jacobs, claiming a shirt in Jacobs' Bootleg Redux Grunge collection is a rip off of the logo Kurt Cobain designed in 1991. In March, Jacobs responded by filing a motion to dismiss the case arguing that the designs are not sufficiently similar and that there are technicalities in Nirvana's ownership of the logo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge John Kronsdadt disagreed with the designer's claims. He ruled that the similarities between the two shirts are adequate and that the technicalities in the legality of the band's registration for the logo are insufficient, Rolling Stone reports.

In his motion to dismiss, The Guardian noted, Jacobs claimed that he was "inspired" by the classic vintage logo but put his own mark on it (no pun intended). Nirvana alleges the use of the logo "misled the public into falsely believing that Nirvana endorses the entire 'Bootleg Redux Grunge' collection … when Nirvana has not done so."

Kronstadt asserted that the only "discernible differences" between the two T-shirts is that Jacob's features M and J initials for the eyes versus the band's use of two X's, notes the Reporter. The judge ultimately decided on Thursday that there was enough there to bolster the band's claims and the suit could survive the dismissal. Brielle Diskin


November 14, 2019

After calling for a boycott of Netflix over alleged racial and gender discrimination, Mo'Nique is taking her case to court.

The actress and comedian filed a lawsuit against Netflix on Thursday, alleging the company made a "biased, discriminatory" offer to her for a comedy special in 2017, NBC News reports.

"Despite Mo'Nique's extensive resume and documented history of comedic success, when Netflix presented her with an offer of employment for an exclusive stand-up comedy special, Netflix made a lowball offer that was only a fraction of what Netflix paid other (non-Black female) comedians," the lawsuit says.

Mo'Nique, who won an Academy Award in 2010 for her role in Precious, went public with her claims against Netflix in January 2018, on Instagram calling for a boycott of the company after saying she was offered $500,000 for a comedy special. "However, Amy Schumer was offered $11 million, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle $20 million," she said.

At the time, Mo'Nique received support from comedian Wanda Sykes, who tweeted that Netflix "offered me less than half of your $500k" and that she was "offended." Sykes later released a special with Netflix in May 2019.

"When the talent was not a black woman, Netflix offered to pay, and did pay, astronomically more than it pays to black women like it offered to Mo'Nique," the lawsuit says, with Mo'Nique's attorney also alleging to NBC that Netflix "takes advantage of a gender pay gap that disproportionately affects black women." Netflix has previously said it doesn't comment on contract negotiations and has not reacted to the lawsuit.

Update: In a statement, a Netflix spokesperson said the company takes "any accusations of discrimination very seriously” and noted, "We believe our opening offer to Mo'Nique was fair — which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit." Brendan Morrow

October 29, 2019

Australian regulators are taking Google to court.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of misleading consumers about its location data collection practices, The New York Times reports. The regulators allege that through on-screen messages, Google led consumers to believe that disabling the "location history" setting on their Android phone would result in their location data no longer being collected, when another setting actually needed to be turned off as well.

"We are taking court action against Google because we allege that as a result of these on-screen representations, Google has collected, kept and used highly sensitive and valuable personal information about consumers' location without them making an informed choice," ACCC Chair Rod Sims said, per CNN.

Google misled consumers about this from January 2017 into late 2018, the ACCC alleges. The regulators also allege Google misled consumers by telling them they could only prevent their location data from being collected by not using its services like Google Search and Google Maps, Reuters reports. This comes after a 18-month investigation into tech companies wrapped up earlier this year, and CNN notes its the first major court case to result from it.

The ACCC is calling for "significant penalties" against Google, with Sims also calling for "declarations that the current behavior should not continue." Google told CNN it is reviewing the case and will "defend this matter." Brendan Morrow

October 4, 2019

After facing allegations in 2018 that he sexually exploited students at his acting school, James Franco is being taken to court.

Two former students of Studio 4, the school Franco founded, have filed a lawsuit against him, alleging he and his partners "engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects," The New York Times reports.

Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who filed the lawsuit Thursday, also allege the inexperienced women at the school were "routinely pressured to engage in simulated sex acts that went far beyond the standards in the industry," per the Times, and that the school aimed to get around California's regulations that forbid requiring actors to pay for auditions, NPR reports. Franco's lawyer says the actor will "fully defend himself" against the "debunked" claims.

The two former students told NPR that women who were willing to do nude scenes and "push the envelope" in Franco's Sex Scenes class, which did not inform students about industry standards like nudity riders, were rewarded with offers of work, most of which required nudity.

Allegations of misconduct at Franco's school, which closed in 2017, emerged in a Los Angeles Times piece last year, for which Tither-Kaplan was interviewed. Violet Paley, an ex-girlfriend of Franco's, additionally told the Times he coerced her into performing oral sex. In an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert shortly before the Times' piece, Franco said, "In my life, I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I've done ... If I've done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to." Brendan Morrow

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