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Johnston v. One America Production, Inc.

2007 WL 2433927 (2007)

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Johnston v. One America Production, Inc.

United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi

2007 WL 2433927 (2007)

Facts

One America Productions (OAP) (defendant), in partnership with other film companies (defendants) created the film Borat, in which a fictional character from Kazakhstan travels through the United States interacting with nonactors who are unaware that the premise is fiction rather than documentary. One scene takes place at a Pentecostal camp meeting in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Ellen Johnston (plaintiff) attended the meeting and was featured in the film for approximately three seconds as she prayed for the character Borat’s conversion. After the film’s release, Johnston filed suit in federal court based on diversity jurisdiction, alleging that being featured in the film without permission was an invasion of privacy by way of misappropriation for an unpermitted use and by holding her in a false light by implying she knowingly mocked her religion. OAP filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pepper, J.)

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