Marion Barry’s Widow Sues His Kidney Donor

     WASHINGTON – Marion Barry’s widow is suing the late D.C. mayor’s living kidney donor for the “unauthorized use” of his celebrity for a foundation bearing the Barry name.
     Cora Masters Barry filed the April 2 complaint in D.C. Superior Court, seeking an injunction against Kim Dickens, who is listed as the co-founder and chairwoman of the Marion Barry-Kim Dickens Kidney Foundation on its website .
     The complaint alleges that Dickens, who donated a kidney to Barry in 2009, is unlawfully using Barry’s name and likeness for the foundation’s financial gain.
     “Such actions by defendants have conveyed the false impression that Marion Barry and/or his estate, the exclusive owner and licensor of his name, image, likeness and celebrity identity has licensed, approved, sponsored, endorsed and/or is otherwise affiliated with Dickens and the foundation,” the complaint states.
     The foundation’s website, which names Barry as co-founder of the foundation created in February 2014, features several photos of Barry, quotes the late mayor regarding Dickens’ kidney donation.
     The donation page of the site claims that Barry supported the foundation’s mission.
     Masters Barry, the executor of Barry’s estate, wants a court to enjoin Dickens from using Barry’s face and terms such as “Mayor for life” to benefit the foundation, which operates from the residential address of Dickens.
     She also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
     “Defendants have not sought or obtained permission from plaintiff to use Marion Barry’s name, image, likeness and celebrity identity in the foundation’s business, marketing and advertising efforts,” according to the complaint.
     Masters Barry disputes the claims by Dickens about Barry’s supposed involvement in creating the foundation and its mission. The widow claims to have sent two cease-and-desist letters to Dickens, demanding she and the foundation immediately drop Barry’s name and association.
     “Prior to his death,” the complaint reads, “Marion Barry did not enter into an agreement or otherwise consent in writing to cofound the foundation with Dickens.”
     Barry, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist who mingled among the likes of fellow activists Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jessie Jackson, served four terms as D.C. mayor. He served three terms between 1979 and 1991 when he was caught on video using crack cocaine during an FBI sting. Barry won re-election and served his last term from 1995-99, earning him the nickname “Mayor for life.”
     Barry died in November 2014 while in his 15th nonconsecutive year serving as the Ward 8 member of the D.C. City Council.
     Masters Barry is represented by Reed Smith attorney A. Scott Bolden.

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