Nude Model Says Daily Mail Defamed Her
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A nude model whose photograph was used in a Daily Mail story about an HIV-positive pornographic actress claims in court that she was defamed.
Leah Manzari (professionally known as Danni Ashe) of Sedona, Ariz., says millions of readers saw the Aug. 22 Daily Mail Online article, posted under the headline "Porn Industry shuts down with immediate effect after 'female performer' tests positive for HIV," and claims the story and her image were syndicated worldwide.
The onetime stripper has been pursuing a career as a fine artist and portrait photographer since 2004, but the soft-core porn site Manzari ran in the 10 years prior made her somewhat of a household name.
Manzari founded Danni's Hard Drive from her bedroom in 1995, and her alter ego was worth $30 million by 2001. She was dubbed the "most downloaded woman on the internet" after images of the model were accessed a billion times that year.
Manzari has been featured on the cover of both the Wall Street Journal and soft-core pornographic magazine, Juggs. Penthouse Media Group later bought Danni.com for $3 million.
In her filing, the model claims the Daily Mail never sought permission to use her image, and did not include a disclaimer or otherwise make clear that she was not the HIV-positive performer in question.
Manzari "has never tested positive for the HIV virus, nor has she ever had the HIV virus, nor has she ever been performer in the hardcore pornographic film industry," the complaint states. "All of these statements by defendants were false."
The Mail's London-based publisher Associated Newspapers, its parent A&N Media and subsidiary DMGT are named as defendants.
In the article, Manzari is allegedly depicted "posing on a bed in lingerie in a provocative manner," accompanied by the caption: "Moratorium: The porn industry in California was shocked on Wednesday by the announcement that a performer had tested HIV positive."
Daily Mail Online later removed Manzari's picture, replacing it with a blurry image of a different model, according to the 14-page lawsuit. The paper, however, allegedly ignored Manzari's demand to publish a retraction.
Requests for comment by Courthouse News also went unreturned.
Manzari seeks $3 million in damages. She is represented by Steven Weinberg of Wein Law Group.