LOS ANGELES (CN) - Former "Jersey Shore" star Katie Cazorla claims in court that a website designer held domain names for her nail salon for "ransom" and refuses to give them back.
In a federal cybersquatting complaint, Cazorla and her boyfriend, Grammy Award-winning record producer Walter Afanasieff, ask a judge to enjoin Ken Hughes, of Canada, and his company Digital Welders before he flees to his homeland to "'escape justice.'"
As well as appearing in MTV's popular reality series "Jersey Shore," Cazorla is the star of the "Nail Files" reality series on TV Guide Network, about her Sherman Oaks salon Painted Nail. Afanasieff is featured in the series, created by the makers of "Jersey Shore."
According to the couple, Hughes in early 2012 offered to barter his design services if Afanasieff produced demos for Hughes' daughter, Alex.
After Hughes registered five domain names from godaddy.com for the actress and record producer, the couple in August 2013 paid Hughes a monthly retainer of $3,000 to manage the sites, and a bonus of $10,000 for his earlier work, the complaint states.
The couple say they fell out with Hughes in March, and he took to social media to insult Cazorla. The couple say they did not know at the time that Hughes had taken control of the domains created to promote Cazorla's nail salon business.
Hughes had changed contact information on the Painted Nail website and commandeered administrative functions at the site, the couple claim.
Calling Painted Nail a valuable asset, the couple say that at the time Hughes was working for them he knew that he could hold the domains "ransom" should a dispute arise.
Hughes and Digital Welders knew that "should any disputes arise between them, or should defendants simply want to hold plaintiffs' domains ransom for some untoward business negotiation in the future, defendants would wrongly control the fate of plaintiffs' businesses at defendants' whim," the complaint states.
Cazorla says she has no access to her business information, including marketing materials, for Painted Nail website. She claims that Hughes removed all content from the website and that the domain name now points to the KatieCazorla.com site.
Though Hughes later returned Afanasieff's domain name, he has refused to give back Cazorla's, according to the lawsuit.
Cazorla seeks a permanent injunction against Hughes and $100,000 in damages.
She is represented by Kenneth Freundlich of Encino.
"Jersey Shore" cast members have been in court repeatedly, for highjinks on the set and off.
Editor's Note: In an April 23 email to Courthouse News, Hughes denied the allegations, claiming he had transferred the domain names back to Cazorla through GoDaddy eight days after she asked and before he had "knowledge of any lawsuit."
U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow issued a preliminary injunction against Hughes on April 8.
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