State Supreme Court|Remands Model’s Case

(CN) – A California model who saw his face on a Taster’s Choice coffee label faces another hurdle in his quest to recover money from Nestle USA for misappropriating his likeness.

     Russell Christoff posed for a photo to be used in Canada on a label for bricks of coffee in 1986. He was looking at a cup of coffee, as if he enjoyed the aroma. Nestle paid him $250.
     Sixteen years later, Christoff saw his face on the Taster’s Choice jar. He claimed his image had been used for 5 years all over the world without his permission.
     The California Supreme Court agreed with the appeals court that Christoff’s original $15 million award should be thrown out.
     The higher court agreed that the trial court wrongfully asserted that the single-publication rule does not apply in cases of misappropriation of likeness.
     The appeals court had ruled that Christoff can bring his lawsuit under the statute of limitations only if he can prove that Nestle hindered his discovery of the photograph, or if the label had been republished.
     Justice Moreno disagreed.
     “The Court of Appeals’ ruling presupposes that Nestle’s various uses of Christoff’s likeness, including its production of the product label for a five-year period, necessarily constituted a ‘single publication’ within the meaning of the single publication rule,” Moreno wrote.
     “Because the parties were prevented by the trial court’s erroneous legal ruling from developing a record concerning whether the single-publication rule applied, we remand the matter for further proceedings,” Moreno added.
     Christoff played Commissioner Petrillo in the 1995 film “Copycat,” starring Sigourney Weaver and Holly Hunter. He also appeared in an episode of “Nash Bridges” in 1999.

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