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Fan’s privacy suit over Joan Rivers documentary nixed by 7th Circuit

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Fan’s privacy suit over Joan Rivers documentary nixed by 7th Circuit

Jan 18, 2013, 11:42 am CDT

Affirming a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit against Joan Rivers, a federal appeals court in Chicago on Thursday held that a fan did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy concerning a brief backstage chat with the raunchy comedian, in the presence of others.

The fan, Ann Bogie, sued after a 16-second clip of the conversation was included in a nationally distributed documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, contending that her privacy had been invaded and that the distribution of the film had misappropriated her right of publicity. But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its opinion that Bogie couldn't reasonably have expected her talk with Rivers to be private.

Although allegations in a complaint must be taken as true for the purpose of deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the district judge correctly relied on a video clip of the conversation, which was included in Bogie's complaint, in granting the defense motion, the three-judge appellate panel wrote. "When an exhibit incontrovertibly contradicts the allegations in the complaint, the exhibit ordinarily controls, even when considering a motion to dismiss."

Originally filed in state court in Wisconsin, where the backstage conversation with Rivers took place, and decided under Wisconsin law, the tort case was removed to federal court under diversity jurisdiction

A tip of the hat to the Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. blog.

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