Friday, November 10, 2006
It was only a matter of time, but we have now learned via the Contracts Professors Listserve that the first lawsuit has been filed by two people who appear in Sacha Baron Cohen's film, "Borat." The complaint, in a suit styled Doe v. One America Productions, alleges that "Sasha [sic] Baron Cohen is a prankster" whose HBO show achieved "moderate success" and who, along with his staff "lie[s] really well." The complaint gives Mr. Cohen's film mixed reviews, alleging that one's ability to enjoy the film depends on one's tolerance "for incest and penis jokes." Although the complaint identifies 50 defendants by the fictitious names Roes 1-50, neither Mr. Cohen (who is real) nor Mr. Borat (who is fictitious) is named as a defendant.
According to the complaint, plaintiffs are two fraternity members, one of whom is under 21, who were plied with drink and then agreed to sign a release (likely the one that was the subject of an earlier post on this blog) and appear in a documentary film. Plaintiffs allege that defendants assured them that the resulting film would not be released in the United States and that their fraternity would not be identified by name. As a result of these misrepresentations, and because they were encouraged to become inebriated, plaintiffs "engaged in behavior they otherwise would not have engaged in." They assert causes of action for fraud, rescission of contract, false light, appropriation of false likeness and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Some have suggested that the complaint might be yet another prank by the irrepressible Mr. Cohen. But if that were so, why wasn't the case styled I.P. Freely & I. Tappa Keg v. Borat?