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Weekly Issues in the News

By Geisa Balla


Three consumers filed a lawsuit in the southern District of New York against Maybelline over its Super Stay 14HR Lipstick and Super Stay 10HR Stain Gloss. The lawsuit was filed on September 21, 2012 by Carol Leebove, Wanda Santa and Denise Santiago. It alleges that L'Oreal falsely advertised the staying powers of its lip products, which sell for about $9.00 each. The lawsuit claims that despite Maybelline's claims, the lip products fade away after only a few hours. The plaintiffs state that Maybelline misled consumers by claiming that the lip gloss "stays vibrant and shiny, yet transparent, and won't fade" for 10 hours, and that the lipstick has "super staying power." The lawsuit alleges breach of warranty and violations of state consumer protection laws. It seeks class-action status, compensatory and triple damages, and other relief.



Zynga Inc. filed a counterclaim against Electronic Arts Inc. ("EA"), claiming that EA's lawsuit against Zynga filed last month violated an agreement between the parties over how Zynga can hire EA's employees. Last month, EA filed a lawsuit against Zynga, claiming that Zynga obtained private information about EA's "The Sims Social" game after hiring three of EA's top employees and releasing its own game "The Ville." In its counterclaim, Zynga said that it had reached a deal with EA in 2011 with lawful restrictions on how Zynga solicited EA employees, and in exchange, EA released Zynga from legal claims surrounding its hiring practices.

Zynga now claims that EA breached this agreement by filing its complaint. Zynga states that an EA lawyer told Zynga that EA Chief Executive John Riccitiello was adamant about obtaining a no-hire agreement that would shut down Zynga's ability to hire EA employees. Zynga's filing acknowledged the signing of a non-monetary settlement agreement with EA in September 2011 in an effort to head off litigation. That deal included "lawful, appropriate and extremely narrow non-solicit restrictions" in the context of a non-monetary settlement agreement. In its filing, Zynga said that EA "undertook an anti-competitive and unlawful scheme to stop Zynga from hiring its employees." Its general counsel, Reggie Davis, also said in a statement that EA's copying claims have no merit.


Sister Act

A nun has filed a $1 billion lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company and Touchstone Pictures over the 1992 film "Sister Act." Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely of the Franciscan Handmaids of Mary Convent in Harlem filed the lawsuit last week in New York Supreme Court. The lawsuit alleges that "Sister Act" and its 1993 sequel, as well as the musical adaptation, used "plaintiff's actual life experiences without her permission or authorization, thereby irreparably damaging her by depriving her of the windfall of financial gain reaped by defendants." "The subplots actualized in the said motion picture 'Sister Act' and portrayed by Whoopi Goldberg are her real life experiences," the suit adds.


Dan Hamilton

The family of Dan Hamilton, the writer of the 1970s hit "Falling in Love" has won a significant jury verdict against Henry Marx, a music producer accused of failing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. Dan Hamilton was a member of Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds, whose "Fallin' in Love" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975. "Fallin' in Love" had been co-published by Spitfire Music, a company controlled by Hamilton's then-manager Joel Cohen. Marx and his Music Force music publishing company later acquired the Hamilton catalog in the mid-'80s. Hamilton had previously been married to Ann Wallace, who was credited as a co-writer of "Fallin' in Love." After Hamilton's death, Wallace sued his estate for back child support. A settlement was reached in 1998 that allowed Marx to collect 100 percent of revenue from the Hamilton catalog and designated that Marx had acquired the publishing interest of Spitfire. However, Spitfire continued to own a share of the publishing revenue. Fredricka Hamilton, Hamilton's widow and her stepdaughter sued and settled, obtaining rights to pursue Max for underpayment of revenue. The lawsuit against Marx sought money Marx allegedly withheld from royalty payments, as well as money that Marx should have collected had he truly collected 100 percent of the revenue. After a six-day trial, the jury unanimously agreed that Marx had committed fraud and breach of contract. Plaintiffs were awarded $562,317. Additionally, the jury found that punitive damages were warranted. Arguments over what the final award should be will be held on September 26, 2012.


Geisa Balla is an attorney practicing in New York, NY. She can be reached at geisa.balla@gmail.com.

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