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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Realtors Can’t Sue ‘CSI’|for Hitting Close to Home

(CN) - CBS blocked a defamation lawsuit from a couple who objected to the use of their names in the development of an episode of "CSI."

Scott and Melinda Tamkin are real-estate agents who worked with "CSI" writer Sarah Goldfinger on a property deal that fell through.

Goldfinger later penned an episode of the hit crime drama with a secondary plot that drew slightly from her own life. A pair of married real estate agents make an appearance in "Deep Fried and Minty Fresh," episode 13 of the show's ninth season.

Initially those characters were even named Scott and Melinda Tamkin, and the Scott character was described as a "hard-drinking extensive porn-watching man."

The Scott character is a suspect in the murder of the Melinda character, whose death "may have occurred during kinky sex."

After the legal department went over the script, the characters became Scott and Melinda Tucker, but an earlier version of the script that used the Tamkins' names went out to casting agents.

The Tamkins' names also appeared on Internet forums before the episode aired on Feb. 12, 2009. Actors Dameon Clarke and Hollie Stenson were tapped to play the Tuckers.

After the Tamkins sued CBS for defamation and false light invasion of privacy, CBS moved to block the lawsuit under California's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law.

The trial court denied CBS' motion, but California's second appellate district in Los Angeles reversed the decision Tuesday.

"There is nothing about the physical description of the fictional Scott Tamkin, such as a special birthmark or a specific fashion accessory or hairstyle, which would allow a reasonable person to conclude that the fictional Scott Tamkin was the real Scott Tamkin," Justice Nora Manella wrote for the court's three-judge panel.

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