September 14, 2011 2:17pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Travel Channel Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Filming Woman at Hot Dog Stand
In its nearly 25 year history, the Travel Channel has been to a lot of places in this world, but it's a Chicago hot dog restaurant that's got the Scripps Network-owned cable station defending a class action lawsuit with damages potentially worth more than $1 billion dollars.
The lawsuit was filed last month by an Illinois resident named Jennifer Zglobicki on behalf of herself and others similarly situated. She alleges that that she was filmed at the Chicago-based Wiener's Circle hot dog restaurant for an episode of the Travel Channel's Extreme Fast Food show, and that neither the producer, Sharp Entertainment, nor the network, obtained her consent to broadcast her likeness.
She's suing under Illinois' Right of Publicity Act, which in the Hollywood court circuit, amounts to an alleged violation of the failure-to-blur-one's-face statute.
Zglobicki demands damages of either $1,000 per violation or actual damages. The program is alleged to have aired 20 times and been broadcast to millions of individuals worldwide, with a potential damage estimate of more than $1 billion. Yes, billion.
Travel is denying the claims, but it actually hyped the large monetary figure in order to get the lawsuit moved on Monday from a circuit court in Illinois to a federal court in the state. Take this as a tip from Travel that federal courts have better weather for corporations.
And why the Wiener's Circle?
According to the Travel Channel website, the hole-in-the-wall hot dog joint is "infamous for hurling insults at its customers.The curses are so insulting, so rude and so downright dirty, they would make sailors and truck drivers blush with modesty."
Zglobicki's complaint doesn't explicitly mention that she was subject to said abuse on television. One woman's emotional distress would be too small for a billion-dollar class action lawsuit.