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Tanner v. Ebbole

Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama
88 So.3d 856 (2011)


Facts

Paul Averette, owner of tattoo and body-piercing business Demented Needle, Inc., (together, defendants) obtained a plaster body cast of competing tattoo and piercing artist Chassity Ebbole, owner of LA Body Art (together, plaintiffs). Averette adorned the plaster cast with satanic symbols and used it to display Demented Needle t-shirts at the front of his shop. Although the mannequin was not recognizable as a body cast of Ebbole, Averette routinely told customers that it was her. Averette told one customer that if he wanted to talk to Ebbole, she was sitting in the front of his store. When the customer responded that he saw only a mannequin, Averette replied that the mannequin was “a cast of her body that we use to set spells on her.” Ebbole sued Averette and the Demented Needle for false-light invasion of privacy and appropriating an element of her personality for commercial use. The jury awarded Ebbole $1 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages. Averette and Demented Needle appealed, arguing Ebbole did not establish either a false-light or commercial-appropriation invasion-of-privacy claim because she did not prove the body cast was either wrongfully obtained from the artist who made it or recognizable as her likeness.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pittman, J.)

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