5 possible reasons why Lindsay Lohan filed that talking-baby lawsuit

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5 possible reasons why Lindsay Lohan filed that talking-baby lawsuit

Wed Mar 10, 2010 @ 10:32AM PST
Lindsay_lohan

By Eriq Gardner

Lindsay Lohan's $100 million lawsuit against E-Trade for airing a commercial that featured a "milkaholic" baby named Lindsay has the town talking (video below).

Here's the actual complaint

We'd love to give a counterintuitive post that argues why this lawsuit stands a chance in hell -- but that seems fairly impossible. It's an obvious loser, leading to natural speculation about what prompted the actress to file it.

Possible Explanation 1: Lohan's representatives really think she can win the case. To do so, her lawyer will need to show that E-Trade knowingly traded on her good name and implied a commercial endorsement where there was none. Perhaps something could turn up in the discovery process implicating the ad agency that created the spot, but there may be enough outs for E-Trade even if it's revealed the online brokerage website had Ms. Lohan in mind. 

Even Lohan's attorney says the spot was a "parody," and thus probably qualifies as a transformative use. We direct your attention to Paris Hilton's lawsuit against Hallmark for selling a greeting card parodying "Paris' First Day as a Waitress." A 9th Circuit opinion recently declared that Hallmark could raise a transformative defense on a celebrity likeness claim.

Possible Explanation 2: The lawsuit was filed in order to scare everyone into a settlement. That seems highly risky. What scenario seems more probable: E-Trade pays to make the lawsuit go away or E-Trade tries to collect its legal fees for having to defend a ridiculous lawsuit that has been reported on every media outlet in the world? We're guessing the latter.

Possible Explanation 3: Now we're into conspiracy theories. Perhaps Lohan and E-Trade have cut a secret deal. Certainly, the commercial has received a great deal of attention of late. We doubt, though, the company would risk FTC inquiries and a class action lawsuit for abusing the legal process.

Possible Explanation 4: Lohan filed the lawsuit as a desperate publicity grab for herself. It hasn't been a great few years for the star of "Mean Girls" and "The Parent Trap." Is negative attention worth having? Reportedly, she's on the outs with her own publicist. 

Possible Explanation 5: The simplest and most likely explanation: She's overly sensitive. In order to keep the client happy, the lawyer obliged her silliness.

We should point out that Lohan has sued to protect her image before and is actually somewhat of a trailblazer on this front. See her case against the American Beverage Institute. On Twitter, her followers egged her on to bring the E-Trade lawsuit.


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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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