MTV denies woman was drunk in 'Real World' lawsuit
Wed Jun 30, 2010 @ 11:20AM PST
By Eriq Gardner
As "The Real World" kicks off its 24th season tonight with a return to New Orleans, the show's producers are fighting back against a woman who claims she was humiliated on the previous Washington D.C. season.
Viacom, MTV and producer Bunim-Murray have answered the $5 million lawsuit, filed last month in US District Court in Washington by Golzar Amirmotazedi, who claims she was given 8 to 10 alcoholic beverages and ridiculed when she refused to have sex with one of the show's cast members.
In pushing her claims of privacy violations and infliction of emotional distress, Amirmotazedi asserts that she was too inebriated to sign a lawful waiver. What say the defendants? Not drunk!
Predictably, the producers first say the release agreement covers them from liability. Here's the waiver used on the show, which the defendants point out states, "I understand that I have no expectation of privacy in [The Real World] house." (The waiver is also more good evidence of the broad rights that people sign away when appearing on reality TV.)
The producers also wish to exploit the arbitration provision of the release agreement and move this dispute out of district court. To do that, they'll have to convince the judge that the agreement is binding, which tests the question of whether Amirmotazedi was of sound enough mind to enter this contract.
Then the answer disputes that the woman was drunk and/or "appeared to be intoxicated" (Paragraph 19)
Based on our viewing of the show, Amirmotazedi doesn't appear to be overly inebriated, but then again, one of the show's cast members admits to giving her vodka-Redbulls and Tequilla. We've posted the relevant clip of the show below.
If Viacom, MTV and Bunim-Murray can't convince the court that the waiver agreement is in effect, they'll have to fall back on other defenses. The producers quickly real off 28 defensesto the plaintiff's claims, and they span the gamut from reasonable to dubious.
For instance, they say the woman didn't have a reasonable expectation of privacy, the show was a truthful depiction, and some of allegations are not susceptible of being proven false. OK. On the dubious side, the defendants say they are shielded by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which deals with the liability of an interactive computer service, and by the California anti-SLAPP statute, which is a cause of action and not a defense (and probably would have no bearing in federal court in DC).
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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