Jury sides with 'Girls Gone Wild' in suit by sexy dancer

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Jury sides with 'Girls Gone Wild' in suit by sexy dancer

Fri Jul 30, 2010 @ 11:42AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Francis,joe "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis finally has a reason to throw one of his outrageous parties.

This week, a St. Louis jury found in favor of Francis' Mantra Films in a $5 million lawsuit brought by a woman who claimed that "GGW" had "damaged her reputation" by distributing a video of her dancing provocatively in a local bar. The jury found that although she didn't sign a release, she had no expectation of privacy by playing to the camera.

"This is just one more example of someone trying to make a quick buck off Girls Gone Wild by making false accusations against our company," Francis boasted in a statement. "At the same time, this is also another great example of someone who got their ass kicked in a court room by a smart judge and a smart jury who saw the truth. Girls Gone Wild will always vigorously defend ourselves against anyone who makes such outrageous and defamatory allegations. Girls Gone Wild has NEVER lost a jury trial."

Maybe. But Francis' legal record is far from unblemished. There was that tax evasion case, of course. And just this week, Francis' own law firm highlighted that Mantra allegedly owes money to consultants as the result of an arbitrator's award.

Keats McFarland & Wilson represented Mantra in a case we wrote about earlier in the year. Francis sued several mobile content businesses and wireless providers, including giants AT&T and Verizon, for allegedly distributing content under a "Girls Gone Mobile" banner that allegedly violated Mantra's trademark on "Girls Gone Wild."

The case settled in July on undisclosed financial terms.

But the money is sitting in escrow at the law firm, instead of in Francis' coffers. 

That's because a few years ago, Francis hired a company by the name of Revenue Enhancement Consultants to boost sales. The company later claimed it was owed commissions and went to arbitration to press a breach-of-contract claim. An arbitrator ordered Mantra to pay $175,000 plus attorneys fees and interest. Ever since, REC has been trying to collect, including intervening in the mobile trademark case by filing a Notice of Lien.

Keats McFarland & Wilson now wants a district court to decide where the settlement money should go.

(This post has been updated. Previously, we reported that mobile providers had settled its case with Mantra for $185,000. The exact settlement figure is unknown.)


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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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