Marlon Wayans recently scored a big win in California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal. The case started when Pierre Daniel, a movie extra from the set of Haunted House 2, sued Wayans in Los Angeles Superior Court. Daniel was upset because Wayans posted a side-by-side picture of him and Cleveland Brown, the fictional cartoon character from the TV show Family Guy, claiming that they looked alike. This is the tweet Wayans posted:
Daniel was not happy, to say the least. Or perhaps he thought this was his golden ticket. He hired a lawyer and sued Wayans. The lawsuit alleged racial harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, misappropriation of likeness, invasion of privacy, breach of quasi contract and unjust enrichment. He claimed to have been so traumatized that he could no longer work as an actor. Sound like a bit of a stretch? An overreaction? A frivolous lawsuit? Well, the Judge thought so. He dismissed the lawsuit, in part because…it’s true! The Judge recognized that the two do look somewhat alike. More significantly, Wayans’s tweet was constitutionally protected free speech. The Judge concluded that “[t]he Cleveland Brown character, like [Pierre], obviously black, heavy … with curly ‘Afro’ hair were all incorporated humorously into the filming of the scene.” 
Daniel appealed, but to no avail. The Court of Appeals ruled in Wayans’s favor, affirming the Trial Court’s dismissal of the lawsuit. An excellent summary of the case can be found here.

Written by Alex J. Durst, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based employment attorney, civil litigation attorney, appellate attorney and divorce attorney with Croskery Law offices. He is licensed to practice in Ohio state courts and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, as well as other state and federal courts by permission on a case-by-case basis (most recently, Kentucky, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Florida). Alex can be contacted by phone at (513) 338-1947 or by email at adurst@croskerylaw.com.

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