NASHVILLE (CN) - A New York publishing company used a photo of a Tennessee church deacon without his permission, depicting him as "Earl the Black Pimp" on a book cover, he claims in court.
Charles Christian sued Kensington Publishing Corp. in federal court for violation of right to be free of publicity, false light, and invasion of privacy.
Christian, a black entrepreneur and Nashville church deacon, took part in a private photography session as a gift to his wife in April 2013, the complaint says.
He was then told by friends and family that his picture was on the cover of Donald Goines' book "Street Players." The book was available for purchase at a grocery store in Mount Juliet, Tenn. and a Barnes & Noble location in Hendersonville, Tenn.
"Mr. Goines' books revolve around and focus on graphic, explicit, and pornographic aspects of prison, crime, prostitution and illegal drugs," the complaint states. "'Street Players' is about a pimp named 'Earl the Black Pimp' who is trapped in a lifestyle of drugs, violence, and prostitution."
The book was first published in 1973 but Kensington released a new edition in July, featuring Christian on the cover "as the violent pimp character," the complaint says.
Christian says Kensington used his likeness and image "in a defamatory and pornographic manner" and shared marketing materials using his image "without his consent in various media in Tennessee and throughout the world," the complaint states.
"Defendant presented photographs of plaintiff to the public in a false and misleading manner, suggesting that plaintiff is a pimp, when that is untrue," according to the complaint. "Defendant's presentation of the photographs in this manner would be highly offensive to a reasonable and prudent person."
A Kensington representative declined to comment, saying the company has not been served yet.
Christian seeks the seizure and forfeiture of books using his image and punitive damages. He is represented by Howell O'Rear of McInteer & O'Rear in Nashville.