U.S. District Judge Dennis R. Hurley recently tossed Lindsay Lohan’s lawsuit against the rapper Pitbull, citing First Amendment protections as grounds for his decision.
Lohan filed the suit against Pitbull and several other defendants after the rapper released a 2011 song entitled “Give Me Everything” – a track which included the following lyrics: “So, “I’m tiptoein’ to keep flowin’/ I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan.” Lohan’s complaint alleged violations of the New York Civil Rights Law (for using her name in advertising/trade without her consent), as well as claims for unjust enrichment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The court based its decision on judicial precedent which provides First Amendment protections to speech in the form of artistic expression – protection which, as it did here, can occasionally rise above an individual’s statutorily protected privacy interests. Judge Hurley simply wasn’t convinced that the mere use of Lohan’s name to make money constituted “use for the purpose of advertising or trade.”
The fact that the use of Lohan’s name was momentary and fleeting did not escape the court’s attention. At one point in his opinion the Judge noted, “Even if the court were to conclude that [Lohan] had sufficiently alleged that her name was used [in this manner] the isolated nature of the use of her name would, in and of itself, prove fatal to her New York Civil Rights Law claim.”
In addition to dismissing Lohan’s suit, the court fined her attorney $1,500 for plagiarizing a large portion of Lohan’s memorandum in opposition to Pitbull’s motion to dismiss from various uncited sources. Judge Hurley noted, “Obviously, this type of conduct is unacceptable and, in the court’s view, is sanctionable pursuant to its inherent powers.”