5 celebrity lawsuits in the news

Michael Jordan gets "greedy," Paula Deen admits to slurs and three other celebrities making headlines

Photo by Steve Lipofsky

Miffed Michael

Michael Jordan won over legions of fans with his prowess on the basketball court, but the judge in the athlete’s lawsuit against Dominick’s grocery stores apparently isn’t one of his biggest supporters. Jordan sued the food store chain in 2009, after the store printed an ad congratulating His Airness for making it into the Hall of Fame. The ad featured Jordan’s name and jersey number and the message “You are a cut above,” below which was a $2-off coupon for a Rancher’s Reserve steak.

Jordan sued the store and its parent company, Safeway Inc., for using his name without permission. His attorneys contend that the fair market value for the use of MJ’s moniker is $5 million, but Judge Milton Shadur this week called that demand “greedy.” However, Shadur has ruled that Dominick’s is liable for the ad, which he called “ultimately stupid and really totally without common sense.”

Paula’s Problems

Celebrity chef Paula Deen is known for serving up traditional Southern cooking on her Food Network shows. But a recent deposition transcript shows that Deen may also be holding on to some less-savory antebellum traditions. Back in March, a former manager at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House—a restaurant that Deen owns with her brother Bubba Hiers—sued the pair for sexual and racial harassment, claiming that she was regularly subjected to racial slurs and sexual advances from Hiers.

Deen denied all charges at the time, but at a later deposition related to the case, the chef admitted to using the “N word” at times, although she said she hasn’t used the term recently. Deen also acknowledged telling potentially offensive jokes, saying: “Most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks … I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.”

Photo by Alan Light

Diet Dupe

Kirstie Alley’s struggle with her weight has made headlines for years, and this week, the star lost one very public diet battle when a judge ordered her to change the labels on her line of weight-loss products. Marina Abramyan sued Alley’s company, Organic Liaison, last year, claiming that its line of supplements—which supposedly help users lose weight, reduce fluid retention and curb their appetites—are ineffective.

Alley is pictured in before-and-after photos for the products, but Abramyan says that the actress shed pounds, not with the supplements, but with “an above average exercise regimen and extremely low calorie diet,” including five to seven hours of daily exercise during her appearance on “Dancing with the Stars.” A judge agreed this week, and ordered Alley to include a disclaimer stating that her supplements are not “proven products,” but instead “a calorie-based weight loss product.”

Photo by Adam Sundana

Peeved Paparazzo

Justin Bieber is at it again. The Canadian pop star will reportedly be hit with another lawsuit, this time from a paparazzo angry over a stolen memory card. Gustavo Garces says that Bieber’s bodyguards snatched his camera after he took candid photos of the singer outside Miami’s Hit Factory recording studio. The star’s guards reportedly returned the camera, but not its SIM Card.

Garces’ suit comes just weeks after another photographer sued the star and one of his bodyguards for a similar incident, in which he was allegedly choked, strangled and deprived of his memory card after he snapped photos of Bieber.

Fleeced Feliciano

Musician José Feliciano, best known for his ubiquitous Christmas hit “Feliz Navidad,” is suing his former manager for allegedly taking advantage of Feliciano’s blindness to defraud the guitarist. Roy Sciacca allegedly landed Feliciano as a client with the promise of an 18-month world tour, admission into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a booking on New Years’ Eve and Christmas specials, and more.

Feliciano agreed to Sciacca’s proposal, but with a few conditions: He wanted the ability to terminate the management agreement at will, and he wanted his manager to receive only commissions on income received during the court of their working relationship. Sciacca allegedly agreed to make the changes, after which Feliciano signed the agreement. Unfortunately, because Feliciano “did not have the ability to read the agreement,” he never saw the final language of the deal, and only later discovered that Sciacca had never changed the language. He is suing to have the agreement rescinded.

Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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