Cut-and-paste brief brings sanction for Lindsay Lohan's lawyer in tossed suit over Pitbull lyric

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A lawyer for Lindsay Lohan suffered two court losses last week when a court dismissed the actress’s lawsuit against rapper Pitbull for a song lyric.

Senior U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley of Brooklyn, N.Y., tossed the unauthorized publicity suit and sanctioned Lohan’s lawyer $1,500 for conduct related to a cut-and-paste brief, the New York Daily News reports. The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq. blog broke the news, which was also picked up by E Online.

The suit had claimed Pitbull violated Lohan’s right of publicity under New York law and caused the actress emotional distress with this song lyric: “So, I’m toptoein’, to keep flowin’, I got it locked up, like Lindsay Lohan.” The Brooklyn, N.Y., federal judge found that the lyrics were protected speech. The use of an individual’s name without consent is not barred by New York law when the use is part of a First Amendment work of art, Hurley wrote in the opinion (PDF).

Hurley refused a motion to sanction Lohan’s lawyers for filing a frivolous suit, given the “relative sparsity of case law directly on point.” But the judge did agree to sanction lawyer Stephanie Ovadia in the amount of $1,500 for conduct related to plagiarized sources in a motion opposing Pitbull’s motion to dismiss. Ovadia’s had blamed the problems on an of counsel at her law firm, according Hollywood, Esq.

Pitbull’s lawyers had asserted that the plaintiff’s memorandum in opposition “was plagiarized from website articles and materials having nothing to do with the claims at issue.” Lohan’s lawyers don’t dispute accusations of plagiarism, Hurley wrote, but Ovadia did submit a letter to the court claiming her attempt to substitute a new brief would have cured the plagiarism problems. Those statements lack candor, Hurley said, because the proposed new brief would not have corrected or cured the plagiarism.

Hurley sanctioned Ovadia $750 for the letter to the court and $750 for the plagiarism. “Attorney Ovadia’s misrepresentation in the letter and submission of a plagiarized opposition constituted an affront to the court,” Hurley wrote.

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