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Lindsay Lohan doesn’t have a tremendous track record when it comes to lawsuits, but the actress has notched a surprising victory at the early stage of a lawsuit against Take-Two and its subsidiary Rockstar Games over Grand Theft Auto V.
She’s alleging that the video game, which features a character named “Lacey Jonas” who eludes paparazzi, constitutes a violation of her rights under New York Civil Rights Law. According to the amended complaint, the game references her star turn in Mean Girls and the West Hollywood hotel where she once lived, and that the publisher in merchandise has “used a look-alike model to evoke the persona and image” of Lohan by imitating a photograph that was once taken of her in 2007. Here’s a look:
Take-Two responded to the lawsuit in the strongest possible fashion, not only bringing the argument that New York’s privacy law against likeness misappropriation stops short when works of art are being examined, but also demanding sanctions over a “legally meritless” claim. The game publisher pointed to Lohan’s past lawsuits — including her loss to Pitbull over a rap lyric — for the proposition that she “lacks any good-faith basis and can only have been filed for publicity purposes.”
Anyone familiar with Manual Noriega’s legal loss over the videogame Call of Duty: Black Ops II might have expected a victory for Take-Two, especially because New York’s publicity rights laws aren’t nearly as generous to plaintiffs as California’s.
On Friday, New York Supreme Court judge Joan Kennedy wrote she must make all inferences in Lohan’s favor at this stage, can’t rely upon defendants’ documents aiming to show the images in question don’t show Lohan and ruled that the actress’ statements in her pleading had sufficiently alleged causes of action to merit a denial of the dismissal motion.
The judge also rejected Take-Two’s argument that Lohan had brought her lawsuit too late. She writes: “Defendants have not been able to prove, at this juncture of the litigation, that the republication exception to the one year statute of limitations is not applicable to this case because the intended audiences were the same as those of the original publication and the images consistently remained the same.”
As a result, the lawsuit survives, and more importantly for Lohan, she’ll now be given an opportunity for ample discovery.
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