Contract Law

Federal Judge OKs Mom's Suit Against Maker of Breastfeeding How-To Film Used in 3rd Party's Porn

A New Jersey mother who agreed to be featured, without compensation, in a televised breastfeeding instructional film says she was horrified to discover the video had been altered and posted online as part of a pornography film, using her full name.

Now a federal judge in New Jersey has given a green light to a lawsuit by MaryAnn Sahoury against the Iowa-based production company that made the legitimate instructional video, the Record reports.

In an opinion (PDF) last week, U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden denied a motion to dismiss by Meredith Corp. and related defendants.

Although Sahoury signed a release that gave permission for the film to be used with few restrictions, the provisions of that release, she contends in her suit, conflicted with promises made by the production crew that her name would not be used and the footage would be included only in an educational video.

For the purpose of a motion to dismiss, when well-pleaded facts must be accepted as true, her allegations were sufficient to state a cause of action for fraudulent inducement to enter into a contract and, alternatively, negligent misrepresentation, the judge ruled. She also OK’d a breach of contract claim.

It appears that the Meredith defendants did not create or post the porn film and tried to help Sahoury limit its distribution, once she discovered it online, to the extent possible.

However, their arguments that the release precluded the suit and that the plaintiff did not reasonably rely on the production team’s representations were not supported by the weight of New Jersey case law, the judge held.

Hayden did dismiss an invasion of privacy claim alleging infringement of Sahoury’s right of publicity, finding that the use of her name and likeness on the video was not sufficiently commercial to establish the elements of the tort.

The New York Post also has a story.

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