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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Mom Says AMA Ads Lie About Her Daughter

CHICAGO (CN) - A mother claims the American Medical Association used a photo of her daughter in a national advertising campaign that falsely claims the girl "has a 'severe' health problem and 'was diagnosed with cancer.' None of that is true," the mom says. She says the AMA ad also claims that her daughter is uninsured, and that isn't true either.

Angela Wonsey sued on behalf of her daughter, China Travis.

She claims co-defendant Shirley Hamilton Inc., a Chicago talent agency, booked China for an assignment in July 2007, when she was 10. The deal was to be for 1 year, but the AMA continued to use her photo at least until May this year, and "consistently trumpeted that the Uninsured campaign was intended from the beginning to be a 'three-year campaign,'" according to the complaint in Cook County Court.

Wonsey also sued Lou Beres & Associates, who she says "orchestrated" the AMA's national ad campaign.

"Shortly after signing the agreement, China appeared in a series of national AMA print advertisements," according to the complaint. "On information and belief, the AMA's campaign was administered and orchestrated by Lou Beres.

"Various versions of the advertisements falsely state that China - referred to in the advertisements as 'Toya' - has a 'severe' health problem and 'was diagnosed with cancer.' (Ex. B.) None of that is true.

"One version of the advertisements recently featured on an AMA website states that China is one of several 'stories of the uninsured,' which is also untrue. (Ex. C.) The advertisements appear on a portion of the website claiming to feature 'Real People. Real Stories.'"

Wonsey claims her daughter's photo "was displayed on top of taxicabs in Minneapolis, was featured in a full page advertisement in Time magazine (in which President Obama was feature on the cover), and also appeared in Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report."

She claims that she and her daughter did not agree to let her image be used for those purposes, and she claims that the false claims of having cancer and being uninsured caused both of them "great embarrassment and reputational harm."

Wonsey says she and her child were paid $500 for the photo shoot.

They demand punitive damages for violations of the Illinois Right of Publicity Act, defamation, false light, invasion of privacy, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.

They are represented by Joseph Siprut with Schopf & Weiss.

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