A Big Law attorney is representing rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson III, who sued a business owner in federal court in Miami for allegedly promoting her medical service company by sharing a photo with the celebrity.
Joseph Rebak, a partner at Akerman in Miami, filed suit on Jackson’s behalf in the Southern District of Florida.
Leslie José Zigel, a partner and the chair of the entertainment, media and technology group at SMGQ in Miami, is not involved in the case. Zigel said that while he would not have advised it, the use of the photo in promoting the business could have avoided a lawsuit if the defendants, Angela Kogan and Perfection Plastic Surgery Inc., did not later insinuate that Jackson underwent a sexual enhancement procedure.
“The genital enhancement was probably a bright red line where the client said, ‘We’re going after these people,’” Zigel said. “If I’m advising a client that wants to use the image and likeness of a celebrity, I’m advising them to make sure they have a signed release for personal or commercial use before you start posting photos. Just because you have a picture of someone does not mean you can use the image.”
Zigel said Jackson would likely provide previous contracts in which he endorsed a product or service as evidence of his entitlement to monetary damages in either a settlement discussion or a jury trial, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 38(b).
Rebak did not respond to an email sent on Friday requesting comment. The defendants do not have counsel listed in the federal docket.
In the complaint, Jackson alleged that he “graciously agreed to have the photo taken with someone he thought was a fan,” and the lawsuit, almost 10 pages later, showed the Instagram photo in question, shot at Perfection Plastic. Jackson did not indicate whether he was there for massage services or another type of procedure.
When Kogan and her businesses posted the photo on IG it made hundreds of thousands of “impressions,” or viewers, according to the complaint. At least one person asked, “Was he there for a booty lift? ”
Kogan further told media outlets that Jackson was a client, according to the lawsuit.
However, the alleged deception escalated when Kogan told a media outlet that she had seen an increase in the amount of clientele seeking “penile enhancements” and cited her “ extensive clientele of celebrities,” which included Jackson, according to the suit.
What followed for Jackson was Internet ridicule, his attorney claimed. But to be clear, Jackson asserted in the complaint that he was neither a plastic surgery nor a sexual-enhancement client.
Now, the case will go before U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr., who sits in the Southern District of Florida.
Jackson asserted in the lawsuit multiple counts including unauthorized misappropriation of name and likeness, common law invasion of privacy, violations of the Lanham Act, conversion and unjust enrichment, and sought the imposition of punitive damages.
Rebak, the musician’s attorney, added in the complaint that the defendants’ “self-promotion through the use of Jackson’s name and image” was to “benefit themselves financially and in the face of their audience at the expense of Jackson’s reputation and dignity.”
Read the complaint: