DALLAS (CN) – A federal jury rejected a videographer’s $50 million claim against comedian and talk show host Steve Harvey, who refused to release video of his old comedy routines containing embarrassing material.
The jury deliberated for several hours before concluding on Thursday that plaintiff Joe Cooper never had a valid contract.
Cooper claimed he signed a deal with Harvey in 1993 in which his company, Close Up Video Productions, was named exclusive videographer for the Dallas-based Steve Harvey Comedy Club.
Cooper claimed the 120 hours of video were his exclusive property under the agreement.
“Harvey knew that Cooper intended to use his videos of Harvey’s performances to create videos that would be sold at retail,” the 2014 complaint stated. “Harvey did not disagree with Cooper’s plans, but requested that Cooper delay in selling videos using Harvey’s performances. Cooper understood that the release of the videos might interfere with Harvey’s plans for his career at that time. Cooper decided to delay his Harvey video project because the videos would become more valuable if Harvey became a bigger celebrity.”
The videos include a routine in which Harvey tells the audience to “go assault old white women,” according to news reports.
Harvey is host of the game show “Family Feud,” a nationally syndicated morning radio show and his eponymous TV talk show. He also was one of the stars in the hit stand-up comedy film “The Original Kings of Comedy” in 2000.
Jurors did not hear or view excerpts of the tapes. The trial occurred as Harvey was being blasted on social media for comments he made on his television show this month against Asian men and soon afterward meeting with President Donald Trump.
Jurors concluded that Cooper misappropriated Harvey’s name or likeness and that Harvey did not consent to the use of his identity. Determination of damages was not necessary, as the parties quickly entered into a settlement and ended the trial, according to court records.