Could this be the first lawsuit to be working in Lindsay Lohan's favor? It certainly looks that way.
Despite the Mean Girls star's previous court track record, the lawsuit she has brought against Take-Two and its subsidiary, Rockstar Games, over Grand Theft Auto V appears to be heading for victory following a surprise win in the cases's early stages.
The case dates back to 2014 when Lohan first claimed that GTA V's character "Lacey Jonas" carried an "unequivocal" reference to her, violating her rights under New York Civil Rights Law. According to the star, the game references her "star turn" in Mean Girls and the West Hollywood hotel where she once lived. Additionally she claims that the merchandise publisher has based products around a photograph of her from 2007, and used them for mugs, T-shirts, billboards, websites, posters, and bus ads.
Here's the picture:
GTA's parent publisher, Take-Two Interactive, has responded that yes, Lindsay and Lacey are two young, blonde women but that is where the comparison ends, adding that the claim is "legally meritless" and the actress is only suing for "publicity purposes."
Additionally, the game publisher claims that the merch using the image in question is not official GTA V, though regardless it wouldn't make a difference because of New York publicity rights.
It still wouldn't be susceptible to Lohan's lawsuit, because the New York publicity rights statute affords the same protection to merchandise and advertising of art as to the art itself, according to case law the motion cites.
As The Hollywood Reporter recounts, on Friday, Judge Joan Kennedy of New York Supreme Court wrote that she must make all interferences in Lohan's favor for the time being. This is because, THR writes:
At this stage, [she] can't rely upon defendants' documents aiming to show the images in question don't show Lohan and ruled that the actress' statements in her pleading had sufficiently alleged causes of action to merit a denial of the dismissal motion.
Kennedy also rejected Take-Two's claim that Lohan had brought the lawsuit too late. She writes:
Defendants have not been able to prove, at this juncture of the litigation, that the republication exception to the one year statute of limitations is not applicable to this case because the intended audiences were the same as those of the original publication and the images consistently remained the same.
Take-Two has yet to comment, though GTA actor Ned Luke (Michael de Santa) offered his two cents on the matter with the below apt tweet:
GTA V was released in 2013 and has sold over 60 million copies. As of February 2016 it's the best-selling physical game in the U.S.