'Female Forces' lawsuit is next on A&E docket

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'Female Forces' lawsuit is next on A&E docket

Fri Jun 25, 2010 @ 11:09AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

11116993 There's something about A&E's distinctive brand of reality TV — voyeuristic and willing to explore touchy subjects like drug addiction, health issues and Steven Seagal — that has made it a prime target for lawsuits.


The latest claim comes from a man who says he was humiliated when cops on A&E's "Female Forces" stopped his vehicle and charged him with driving with a suspended license. According to the complaint, Matt Coan says he refused to sign a release, but the show aired his arrest anyway (it featured him becoming ill and throwing up in custody). 


Coan says the footage was staged, edited and sensationalized in an effort to demean him. He's suing in federal court in Chicago, claiming his civil rights were violated.


This isn't the first time that A&E has been caught up in a reality TV legal battle.

Earlier this month, a judge dismissed a lawsuit by a man who claimed A&E's "Gangland" defamed him and put his life in danger. The plaintiff was an incarcerated man who objected to the network showing a jail-house fight between him a fellow inmate. The case was tossed because there was a finding of substantial truth.


In May, A&E got caught up in a trial pertaining to the death of a 7-year-old girl at the hands of police during a raid. The event occurred during a taping of the show "The First 48," and family members and attorneys have suggested that the cops may have been playing to the camera crew during the fatal raid.

Then there's A&E's fracas with a reality production company that claims the idea for the show "Steven Seagal: Lawman" was stolen. Seagal has had his own troubles, of course, and the show is not currently in production.


A few years ago, a man sued over A&E's "Dog the Bounty Hunter" after being apprehended and held at gunpoint*. It turned out later that Dog had gotten the wrong guy, but the episode was shown anyway, even though the plaintiff claimed he hadn't signed a waiver.


*UPDATED CLARIFICATION: The plaintiff alleged that it was officers with the police department and not Dog Chapman himself who held him at gunpoint.

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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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