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January 2013

Gordon & Rees Las Vegas Team Wins Motion to Dismiss

In Suit Involving Reality TV Show Video Footage

Gordon & Rees Las Vegas managing partner Robert E. Schumacher and associate Stephanie J. Smith prevailed on a motion to dismiss in the U.S. District Court of Nevada on behalf of a national television broadcasting company, Langley Productions Inc., Sheriff Douglas Gillespie, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LV Metro).

The plaintiff was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence and filmed as she was booked into the Clark County Detention Center. Langley Productions -- the producer of the shows “COPS,” “Inside American Jail,” and “Las Vegas Jailhouse” --subsequently aired footage nationally of the plaintiff on one of its reality television programs.

The plaintiff alleged the defendants violated her likeness for commercial purposes, portrayed her in a false light (violated her right to privacy), and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her. The plaintiff specifically claimed that TBS defamed her. In addition, she alleged violations of her constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against LV Metro and Jane Doe Officers, and that all of the defendants engaged in a civil conspiracy to violate her constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Lastly, the plaintiff claimed Gillespie, LV Metro, and the Jane Doe Officers were negligent, and LV Metro negligently trained, supervised, and controlled its officers. 

Gordon & Rees moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds the plaintiff had insufficient or improper allegations to support her claims for relief. Defense counsel argued that the plaintiff signed an appearance release pertaining to the use of her video footage, and that she did not allege any facts to establish deprivation of her constitutional rights. In response, the plaintiff contended she had “plausible” claims, and that she did allege sufficient facts to plead her 42 U.S.C. §1983 claims.

In a decision entered in late December, Chief Judge Robert C. Jones granted the motion to dismiss. Jones agreed with the argument that the plaintiff, in her complaint, failed to identify any constitutional violations. Jones found the plaintiff’s allegations insufficient to sustain her claims for civil conspiracy and for violations of her civil rights against LV Metro, which were brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. Jones also found that a “Doe” pleading is improper in federal court and dismissed the claim the plaintiff brought against the Jane Doe Officers for constitutional violations. The suit was dismissed in its entirety.

Click here for the order.

Robert E. Schumacher