A company hired by an upscale “gentleman’s club” that features wet T-shirt and whipped cream wrestling events in West Los Angeles wrongfully used the images of four female models to promote the establishment on social media without the women’s permission or paying them in 2015-16, an attorney told a jury Tuesday.
Lawyer Zachary Page. who said his model clients had “nothing to do with the club,” gave his opening statement to a Los Angeles Superior Court panel hearing trial of Timed Out’s lawsuit against Prisma Entertainment LLC, owners of the Plan B club. Page said a social media strategy and publicity firm, Chippewa, was acting as an agent of Prisma when it used the women’s images, thereby depriving the plaintiffs of their ability to “control their careers.”
However, Prisma attorney John T. Griffin said his client did not know that Chippewa was using the images of any models against their wishes. He said the key questions in the trial will be whether it was wrong for the models’ images to be posted and, if so, what is the fair market value of their images.
Two months after Timed Out filed suit in June 2017, Prisma filed a cross-complaint against Chippewa, seeking reimbursement for any damages Prisma may have to pay. Judge Gregory Keosian told jurors before opening statements Tuesday that the cross-complaint was resolved before trial, as were the claims of models Kimberly Cozzens and Ursula Mayes.
The remaining four models seeking damages are Jessica Charm Killings, Kristina Chai, Leanna Decker and Katarina Van Derham. They are seeking damages through the plaintiff, Timed Out, which acquires and pursues claims for rights-of-publicity violations by third parties.
Plan B describes itself on its website as “L.A.’s Ultimate Cocktail Lounge.” The Pico Boulevard club is the location of wet T-shirt and whipped cream wrestling events, according to Page, who said the models’ images were used on the club’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
“The models had nothing to do with the club,” Page said. “There is no excuse for the theft of the models’ images.”
Griffin said Plan B had sought a more active social media presence. He said Timed Out and its president, Peter Hamm Jr., will receive one-third of whatever damages the models may recover during the trial.
Van Derham has appeared on “CSI” and was the 2009 model for St. Pauli Girl beer, a top-selling German beer in the United States.
Killings has millions of social media followers, according to Page.
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