FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CN) – A psychic hotline can use the general counsel of BMG’s Latin division as an expert witness after it was accused of using a medium’s name and image without permission, a federal judge ruled.
Self-professed psychic Linda Georgian had a contract with the Zodiac Group that allowed the company to use her name and image in its advertisements for telephone psychic entertainment services. She sued after Zodiac allegedly continued to use her name and image after their agreement expired.
As an expert witness for the trial, Zodiac wants to call Leslie Jose Zigel, general counsel of BMG’s Latin division in Miami, who the company says is knowledgeable on publicity rights and celebrity marketing and branding.
Georgian filed a motion to strike Zigel as a witness, but U.S. District Judge James Cohn rejected the maneuver after assessing evidence about Zigel’s qualifications, methodology and assistance to the case.
“Mr. Zigel, as general counsel of BMG’s Latin Division in Miami, worked ‘closely with [recording] artists on their tour related initiatives that they conducted as well as understanding all of the intricacies of their entertainment careers, marketing, public relations and the ‘making of’ stars process,'” Zigel wrote. “As a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, Mr. Zigel represented both companies and talent ‘for endorsement agreements, television production companies, film production and new technology initiatives.’ For the past five years Mr. Zigel has had his own firm and worked extensively in the entertainment and branding fields, ‘which has included endorsement/spokesperson agreements related to Bud Light, Dr. Pepper, 7-UP, The Collection, State Farm, Kodak and other leading corporate entities.’ He has also ‘worked on deals involving celebrities such as Dwyane Wade, Pitbull, Kendra Todd, Rosanna Vasquez and others.’ He has spoken at numerous conferences with respect to branding and marketing issues. In addition, he represents ‘numerous advertising agencies and talent marketing agencies and work[s] on product integration and product placement deals with major Spanish language and general market television networks.’ Based on the foregoing, the Court finds Mr. Zigel is qualified to render the opinions set forth in his report.”
Cohn also defended Zigel’s methodology and ability to assist in resolving the case.
Georgian and Interactive Information Networks are suing the Zodiac Group, David Felger, Daniel Felger, and Matthew Perez.