12:23pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Viacom Faulted in Lawsuit for Not Protecting Rapper From Reality TV Contestant
Jayceon Taylor, the hip-hop star known as "The Game," is asserting that he's the victim after a jury determined he committed battery. He's now filed a $20 million negligence lawsuit against Viacom for allegedly not protecting him from Priscilla Rainey, who was cast to be a love interest on the VH1 reality show She's Got Game.
After competing on the show, Rainey claimed she was sexually assaulted by Taylor during an "afterhours date," and after a trial last November, a jury entered a verdict in Rainey's favor in the amount of $7.1 million.
Taylor is now putting the blame on VH1's parent company, Viacom, contending in a complaint filed on Monday in California federal court that the network owed him a duty of reasonable care to ensure that the contestants were fit and suitable for participation. He alleges that as part of casting, Rainey underwent a psychological exam, and while she was recommended for participation on the show, the doctor was later presented with court documents including several arrest reports involving Rainey.
"Defendants clearly had knowledge of Rainey's violent and extensive arrest history, yet they chose ratings over protecting the Plaintiff and others," states the complaint. "In addition to having knowledge of Rainey's multiple arrests, Defendants knew, or should have known, that Rainey was Baker Acted in 2012."
According to the lawsuit, this refers to Florida's Mental Health Act of 1971, which allows for involuntary institutionalization of an individual.
The complaint goes on to accuse Rainey, who is not a named co-defendant, of "several troublesome incidents" on She's Got Game, including violent behavior and jealousness. Rainey was "kicked" off the show," it adds, which "humiliated and enraged" her.
Taylor, through his complaint, doesn't directly deny assaulting Rainey, although he does imply as much by framing the jury's decision as "shocking," "against the clear weight of the evidence" and under appeal. Besides suggesting that Viacom owed him a duty of care through its background screening practices, Taylor also brings counts for negligent misrepresentation, negligent infliction of emotional distress and breach of fiduciary duty.
A spokesperson from Viacom responds, "In November 2016, a jury ordered Mr. Taylor to pay more than $7 million as a result of his actions against a former contestant of an unscripted television series produced by a third party. He is now seeking to shift the burden of his damages to Viacom through a misdirected legal action that is totally without merit. We will work with the production partner on this series to vigorously defend against this claim.”