A man is suing the Johnny Rockets Group Inc. and other parties, alleging all share liability for the unauthorized use for commercial purposes of what was supposed to be a private, training video of him dancing while working at the Knott’s Berry Farm location in 2004.
Timura Jackson’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit also names as defendants Johnny Rockets owner Fat Brands Inc. and Fifth Avenue Restaurant Group, a Johnny Rockets franchisee that specializes in Las Vegas casino food court development.
The suit’s allegations include violation of the right of publicity, unjust enrichment, false light and negligence. He seeks unspecified damages in the suit brought Wednesday. A Fat Brands representative could not be immediately reached.
Jackson worked for Johnny Rockets in 2004 at the Knott’s Berry Farm location, which at the time was the chain’s largest restaurant, the suit states. He was hired as a server and soon was promoted to a supervisor, the suit states
Johnny Rockets management inspects franchise operations to ensure standards are being upheld and one such requirement is the Johnny Rockets servers dance, a tradition for which the chain was noted and which Jackson was asked to demonstrate, the suit states.
As a supervisor, Jackson’s dance was conducted in a closed restaurant with no customers or members of the public present, the suit states. The session was recorded during a private corporate review with the understanding that it would be used internally for training purposes, the suit states
“Plaintiff was not aware, was never informed and never consented that his likeness would be turned into promotional material that would be publicly displayed and distributed to franchisees for commercial gain,” the suit states.
Jackson Friday is a director of operations of a nonprofit entity and he was in a Las Vegas food court in 2020 when he saw a Johnny Rockets promotional video playing an infinite loop that appeared to be the same images that were recorded of him years earlier, the suit states.
Several people at the food court, including associates of Jackson, observed and identified him dancing in the promotional video, the suit states.
“Plaintiff was publicly humiliated in front of his associates and strangers,” the suit states.
The defendants have distributed the commercial video of Jackson to an unknown number of franchisees involving more than 300 locations, 26 states and multiple countries without authorization, the suit states.
Settlement negotiations were unsuccessful, prompting the filing of the lawsuit, according to the complaint.
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