PHILADELPHIA (CN) – An attorney for a dwarf couple from New Jersey says E! Entertainment Television and TV funnyman Joel McHale, host of E!’s “The Soup,” defamed his clients by including a photograph of them in a reality show montage.
In an interview with Courthouse News, Herman Weinrich with Timoney Knox said the final product created the “really disgusting,” false implication that the plaintiffs are irresponsible parents who would tattoo their children.
Cara and Gibson Reynolds filed a praecipe for writ of summons against Comcast, E! Entertainment, McHale and the Associated Press in Philadelphia County’s Court of Common Pleas. Pennsylvania litigants typically file summons praecipes to initiate legal actions and set the stage for the pre-complaint discovery process.
The photograph at issue was taken from an Associated Press article about “creating made-to-order babies with genetic defects,” including dwarfism, Weinrich said.
The AP article quotes Cara Reynolds saying that she plans to adopt a dwarf baby – not create one.
Weinrich said the AP article was evenhanded, examining the ethical questions surrounding the practice of designing babies who may share their parents’ characteristics, such as “deafness or dwarfism.”
Weinrich said Cara Reynolds has not engaged in the practice, but spoke out against critics of it in the article.
The AP reported her as saying: “‘You cannot tell me that I cannot have a child who’s going to look like me,’ Reynolds said. ‘It’s just unbelievably presumptuous and they’re playing God.'”
Reynolds and her husband are depicted in the AP article, sitting on a porch and smiling.
Weinrich said he’s in the process of determining whether E! lifted the photo from the AP without permission.
He said that if he determined that the photo was downloaded unlawfully, he may drop the wire service as a defendant.
The Reynolds “were never asked if their likeness could be used” in the television clip, Weinrich said.
He added that the video clip was “particularly painful” because the Reynolds had lost a child and were trying to adopt a Chinese baby, also a dwarf, at the time the clip aired.
The Reynolds, who declined to comment and referred questions to their attorney, were concerned that the clip could be misconstrued and prevent them from completing the adoption, Weinrich said.
A spokeswoman for E! Entertainment Television said the company does not comment on ongoing legal actions.