Misappropriation of Name/Likeness
Public Disclosure of Private Facts
Errors and Omissions
TELEVISION BROADCASTER - LIBEL
A television station in the South was sued over a story it broadcast stating that the plaintiff had not paid federal income taxes for a number of years and the federal government was seizing his property. Plaintiff alleged that the stories incorrectly reported that he had failed to file tax returns, when in fact, his property had been seized for his failure to pay the full amount of taxes due. The case was eventually settled by a payment of an average amount. However, legal fees to defend the case were five times the amount of the settlement.
A Northeastern television station was sued by certain individuals who alleged that they were defamed due to statements made about their musical group, which performed hits from the 1950's. The announcer of the program said that the group that had been scheduled to appear had been cancelled because the group members who were scheduled to appear did not have the right to use the name of the group. Because of a split of the group, there was a dispute as to which group members were entitled to use the name of the group. This dispute among the group members was very acrimonious. While the case was eventually dismissed by way of a motion for summary judgment, extensive discovery was required and legal fees incurred to defend the case were considerable.
A New England television station was sued for its investigative report and related interviews with members of a government agency who indicated that the plaintiff had had many complaints filed against him and that he was the subject of many investigations. The reporter summarized the comments of the various public officials and identified the plaintiff as "notorious for operating questionable business and paying employees with rubber checks". The case was settled just prior to trial for an above average amount. Legal fees to defend the case were approximately twice the amount of the settlement amount.
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TELEVISION BROADCASTER - INTRUSION
A Midwest television station was sued for intrusion arising from its broadcast of a drug bust at a home that the plaintiffs were visiting. The television crew allegedly took pictures of the plaintiffs without their permission. The pictures were used in a television newscast on a story about women who became prostitutes for drug money. The plaintiffs claim that their picture was taken without their consent and that their right to privacy was violated as a result. The case eventually settled for a moderate amount, but legal fees were many times higher.
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TELEVISION BROADCASTER - MISAPPROPRIATION OF NAME/LIKENESS
A television station in the South was sued regarding its broadcast concerning a dog that had been subjected to cruelty. The story also used a picture of a minor child who was described as the owner of the dog. The child was identified by name and address. The plaintiff claimed, through her parents, that it was unnecessary to identify her and that the television station had done so only to embellish the story. The case settled for a moderate amount, including defense costs.
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TELEVISION BROADCASTER - PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF PRIVATE FACTS
A Southeastern television station was sued over its broadcast concerning early detection of breast cancer. Volunteers agreed to demonstrate how a woman should conduct a breast self-examination. It was the plaintiff's understanding that she would be shown from the neck down, so she could not be identified. Her torso was shown in one segment and in separate footage her face was shown. Because the plaintiff was the only woman of color in the broadcast, viewers were able to link her chest and face. Plaintiff filed suit for invasion of privacy and emotional distress. The case was eventually settled, but not before, legal expenses were incurred.
An East Coast television station was sued for its broadcast of a syndicated television program, which contained photographs of a patient before and after reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. The plaintiff had provided a release, but was not allowed input into the final program as broadcast as she had expected. The causes of action alleged were invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, and negligence. The case was eventually settled for a fairly large amount, with legal fees of an equal amount.
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TELEVISION BROADCASTER - FALSE LIGHT
A West Coast television station was sued for false light after it broadcast a story about the alleged fraudulent sale of cash register receipt coupons. The story used film footage of the plaintiff's coupon books, implying that they were part of the scam when they were not. The case was eventually settled, for an average amount. Defense costs were about twice the amount of the settlement.
A New England television station was sued by plaintiff who alleged that its business was wrongfully implicated in a television broadcast concerning sexually explicit video arcade games that were being used by minors in the area. The story used file tape footage of the business in question, which was of a video arcade, but which did not have any of the video games in question. The case was eventually settled for a large sum. Defense costs in the case were limited since this was a case of clear liability and was settled quickly.
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TELEVISION BROADCASTER - COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
The plaintiff alleged that a midwestern television station had copied the plaintiff's commercial that was produced for another television station. The plaintiff alleged that the commercial for the insured was a direct imitation of the plaintiff's commercial, which was protected by copyright registration. The claim was settled for a significant amount, including legal fees.
A television station in the upper Midwest, broadcasting a sports and wildlife show, was sued by a publisher, which published books on the same subjects. The plaintiff alleged the defendant's show was adopted from plaintiff's books. The case involved a number of claims and counter claims between the parties and was eventually settled. The amount of the settlement was above average. Defense costs were approximately three times the amount of the settlement.
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TELEVISION BROADCASTER - TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT
A television station in the West was sued for its public service announcements concerning education about prenatal health and pediatrics medicine. The television station used a slogan for the program that allegedly was trademarked by another company from a different part of the country. The case was eventually settled for an amount in the mid-six figures. Legal fees were an additional one-half of the amount of the settlement.
An East Coast television station was sued on the basis that it improperly used the plaintiff's registered trademark, which was the name of a musical group. The television station alleged it had purchased the right to use the trademark. The case eventually settled for an average amount of the eve of trial. Defense costs were two times the settlement amount.
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TELEVISION BROADCASTER - NEWS GATHERING
A Midwestern television station was sued because it showed a videotape of a drug bust and went into the plaintiff's home when the plaintiff's son was arrested. The plaintiff alleged that the television station went into the home of the plaintiff without permission. The case was eventually settled for an average amount. Defense costs incurred were in excess of the amount of the settlement.
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TELEVISION BROADCASTER - ERRORS AND OMISSIONS
A children's program included a bit where kids were taught how to make a neat noise by putting a b.b. into a round balloon and whirling the b.b. inside the balloon. A kid tried it and lost an eye when the balloon popped and shot the b.b. out. The case was successfully defended, but at great cost.
A television station in the Mountain States did a story on a local bank that did not have FDIC insurance. While this was true, the bank had been approved for the insurance, if certain conditions were met. The plaintiff alleged that the problem with the story was that during the lead-in, the bank was lumped with other banks in the state that were financially troubled. The plaintiff further contended that the bank was not failing and was in sound financial condition. The story led to a run on the bank, and the depositors' funds were saved only after another local bank stepped in and purchased the plaintiff's bank. The former owner of the bank claimed he lost $5,000,000. The defense eventually won on summary judgment. Legal fees to defend the case were substantial.
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*These claims are examples of those encountered in the types of businesses insured under AXIS PRO's Media Liability Plus Program.
Some are claims we've handled; in others, we were not directly involved. Coverage for these claims is not to be inferred from this list but must always be determined in reference to a particular insurance policy, which is the controlling document, as well as the facts and circumstances of each claim and applicable law.