Entertainment Lawyer acts for Lindsay Lohan against E*trade
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Entertainment Lawyer acts for Lindsay Lohan against E*trade

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Law Articles With a story capturing the entire entertainment world, Lindsay Lohan has managed to make the news again. Lohan is suing E*Trade for $100 million over their latest television commercial. Known as the "milkaholic" advertisement, Lohan claims E*Trade is using the name "Lindsay" as a way to profit off the life of Lohan.

Lindsay is claiming that the ad violates her right to privacy and that E*Trade is exploiting her fame. She is asking $50 million for compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages. Lindsay is also seeking a permanent injunction against the advertisement and the right to possession of all copies of the advertisement. Lohan's entertainment lawyer, Stephanie Ovadia, claims she has developed the same single-name recognition as Madonna and Oprah.

"They're using her name as a parody of her life," Ovadia says. "Why didn't they use the name Susan? This is a subliminal message. Everybody's talking about it and saying it's Lindsay Lohan."

Legitimacy of the Claim

Lohan's incongruous claim is based on E-trade's name of choice, Lindsay, for their "milkaholic" baby character. The absurdity of the lawsuit only increases with the arbitrary amount demanded, of $100 million. There is no doubt that Ovadia, Lohan's entertainment lawyer, will have a difficult time convincing a judge to allow this into court.

Lindsay Lohan The first relevant issue is whether or not the advertisement actually depicts Lohan as a character. The only ground Ovadia can base her case on is the naming of the baby, Lindsay, and its description as a "milkaholic." Lohan's lawyer claims Lindsay is universally known on a first-name basis; however, proving this claim may be difficult. Any data or relevant statistics arguing for her one-name celebrity status could easily be disputed with contrary statistics.

Ovadia could argue that the chances of Lindsay being chosen at random are significantly slim, especially when Lindsay is considered to be a rare name for a baby nowadays (#314 according to babynames.com). However, all of this may be irrelevant when considering case law.

So far, Ovadia's worst mistake was made during an interview, in which she accused E*Trade of creating a parody of Lohan. The Ninth Circuit has continually shown that a celebrity's right to privacy is subject to the First Amendment, particularly when the relationship between the celebrity and the object is transformative. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was created, along with a few other uses, to protect freedom of private and commercial speech against both state and private actors. In this case, there is a significant transformation visible beyond just the celebrity's name and likeness (as in the case with parodies).

If celebrities within the United States were granted the right to sue per the existence of parodies, television shows such as Saturday Night Live would struggle to exist. This creates a very difficult situation for Ovadia as she previously recognized the advertisement as a parody.

Lohan and her lawyer will probably drop the lawsuit and attempt to avoid any further unnecessary backlash. However, if they choose to continue, their chances of winning are miniscule, as the suit will probably be dismissed upon first hearing.

Article by Justin Herzig, USA Consultant for navitas legal™
©navitas legal™ 2010

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