LOS ANGELES (CN) – The canceled crime drama “Southland” used an autopsy photo of a murdered man in the show’s title sequence without the victim’s mother’s consent, she claims in court.
Hilda Abarca and her daughter Jessica Abarca sued Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles, Southland (TV Show), John Wells Productions, Warner Bros. Television, NBC, TNT, and Warner Home Video, on Monday in Superior Court.
They seek damages for misappropriation of image, invasion of common law right of privacy, unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, negligent infliction of distress, and negligence.
Hilda Abarca’s son Andy Abarca was murdered on Sept. 28, 2005 and his killer was successfully prosecuted, the mother says. According to her complaint, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Coroner’s Office took “numerous” photographs of Andy Abarca’s body.
Years later, one of those images showed up on TV, she says.
“In mid-September, 2013, plaintiffs were watching the television show, ‘Southland’ which begins with a montage of photographs of crime scenes and bodies in morgues and other locations, such as on an autopsy table. Plaintiffs were shocked to see and discover, for the first time, that one of the photographs in the montage which commences the ‘Southland’ television program was of their deceased relative, Andy Abarca, that appeared to be taken in a coroner’s laboratory,” the complaint states.
Abarca says she suffered from nightmares and other psychological injuries after seeing her deceased son’s image on television.
She seeks punitive damages, costs, and an order barring “Southland” from using her son’s image, and profits “attributable to defendants’ use of plaintiff’s image.”
The Abarcas are represented by Sanford Jossen of El Segundo.
The first season of “Southland” debuted on NBC in 2009. TNT picked up the show, where it ran for four more seasons before its cancellation in May 2013.
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