CHICAGO (CN) – An Illinois appeals court reinstated a partial judgment for Chade Fashions in a right-of-publicity dispute with professional model Aureen Berry, who claimed the company used her picture on products without obtaining her permission or paying her.
Berry earned $750 from a photo shoot for Chade’s Vienna line of hair products. Though her contract authorized her image for catalog use only, she later found out that her photographs had been used on several Chade products. She sued for violation of publicity rights, damages and breach of contract.
A lower court granted her partial summary judgment on the publicity-rights claim only, but later vacated that judgment after finding it was inconsistent with the rest of the ruling. On reconsideration, the court found that Chade had filed the motion to vacate more than 30 days after the order, making it untimely.
Justice Cunningham reversed this decision and reinstated the order vacating partial summary judgment for Berry.
Time was not the essence, Cunningham said, because the order was neither final nor appealable.
Further, the evidence shows that Chade never breached the modeling contract or violated Berry’s publicity rights, the court ruled, so it cannot be held liable for damages.
Leaving the partial summary judgment in tact “flies in the face of established legal principles,” Cunningham said.
The court reversed the vacated partial judgment and Berry’s $1,000 damage award. The model had also appealed the award, saying she should get the $1,000 minimum award for each alleged infringement, which she estimated at more than 15 million.