EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (CN) – ESPN asked a federal judge to dismiss a $50 million claim that it televised Joe Frazier’s last fight without permission. Frazier’s opponent, Floyd “Jumbo” Cummings, sued pro se from his prison cell at Menard Correctional Center in Randolph County, where he is serving a life sentence for armed robbery.
Cummings claims ESPN violated the Right of Publicity Act by using his name and identity for commercial purposes. He sued in Randolph County Court, then the case was removed to Federal Court. Cummings seeks $50 million in actual damages plus exemplary damages.
“I have been subjected to the contempt, ridicule, and inquisitive notice of the general public to the injury of my personality and to the outrage of the finer sentiments of my nature and to the humiliation of my self-respect; my peace of mind has been disturbed and destroyed; my privacy has been invaded and my right to privacy violated; I being a private person and having an individual personality, has thus been made notorious and conspicuous to the public having been singled out for and identified to public notice and attention, which is utterly obnoxious to me; and I have been caused to suffer great mental pain and personal injury,” the complaint states.
ESPN attorney Joseph Martineau filed the motion to dismiss, claiming that ESPN did not rebroadcast the Cummings-Frazier fight, and even if it did, broadcasts of any sporting event fall under the enumerated exception in the Right of Publicity Act. ESPN wants the case dismissed with prejudice and Cummings to pay defense costs. Cummings and Frazier fought to a 10-round draw on Dec. 3, 1981.