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Posts Tagged ‘lawsuit’

Jack Daniel’s Challenging Competitors to a Branding/PR Fight

funny-Jack-Daniels-water-dispenser

Meanwhile around the cooler in the break room…

If you fancy an adult beverage, odds are you have imbibed in a high ball glass full of Jack Daniel’s burning smooth, corn-based recipe. And now that the 148-year-old, Tennessee-based whiskey distillery has a proprietary face and taste in the beverage industry, they want to keep it that way.

And so, Jack Daniel’s is taking the competition to court over the term “Tennessee Whiskey.” Because they can, in case you were wondering.

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Texas School Pays $77K for Kicking a Student’s Behind Out of the Closet to Her Mother

dont_mess_with_gay_texasIn 2009, a beatnik school district in east Texas committed a social faux-pas. In fact, the egregiousness of this redneck, knee-jerk, the-village-just-found-its-missing-idiot debacle cost Kilgore ISD more than $77,000. Why?

According to the Longview News-Journal, young softball player Skye Wyatt was confronted by two coaches and accused of a lesbian relationship. She denies it because she had a call from the united sisterhood of its none of their damn business. To wit, they called her mother to inform her that her daughter was gay.

Because that’s being a good teacher. Right? The following year, Skye files a lawsuit.

“It’s the worst bullying I’ve ever seen,” says attorney Paula Hinton, who represented Skye pro bono along with Jennifer Doan and the Texas Civil Rights Project. ”Not only has this girl been outed to her mother and thrown off the softball team where she was a great player, the school organizes this ‘mean girls style attack’ and submits these horrible affidavits.”

So, Kilgore ISD got its Lone Star behind handed to them. In addition to getting spanked for 77 LARGE, the district will institute training sessions for employees, as well as updating its handbooks to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation more clearly.

Still no word on the neck discoloration — all that red and stuff.

Lindsay Lohan Sues Grand Theft Auto V

Art imitating life -- if ever there was an example.

Art imitating life — if ever there was an example.

In what has to be a dire attempt to get back in the spotlight comes teen-star turned crack-ho trollop Lindsay Lohan. She has nothing better to do these days than … well, lines … so I’m sure she and her near-out-of-work publicist are taking in a few video games to pass the time.

And that’s when the epiphany struck and a PR story was born.

Broken by trash diggers and snoop shooters TMZ.com, “LiLo” (as the kids in rehab call her) insists that’s her on the game and no one asked her permission to use her image. There’s even part of a game that “features a mission where a Lindsay Lohan look-alike asks the player to take her home and escape the paparazzi.” So, naturally, the report is the former ‘Mean Girl’ wants to sue Rockstar Games for a truckload of cash.

Rumor is Lohan also noticed GTAV also features a mission at a hotel resembling Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood — a place where Lohan visits often and lived for a period of time. No word on if this mysterious character goes on a cocaine binge in the game, but reporters are digging.

Condé Nast Kills Its (Unpaid) Internship Program

MID-conde-nast-sunrise-226x300This morning WWD learned that its parent company Condé Nast has decided to put the kibosh on all that bad publicity by killing its internship program dead. The company gave no comment or explanation for its decision, but we have a feeling it might have something to do with the summer lawsuit filed by two interns angry over making “less than $1 an hour” at the company. At first Condé simply decided to stop paying its lackeys altogether, but the risk apparently remained too great despite the fact that an identical class action suit against Hearst didn’t go anywhere in the end.

It’s time to re-evaluate the concept of internships. They’re supposed to provide equal opportunity career paths for talented, ambitious young students who can afford to work without getting paid, but they’re more often just a way to get entry-level work done without spending any money on hiring or benefits or any of the other annoying stuff that comes with, you know, running a for-profit business.

The Department of Labor considers internships “employment” (which must be fairly compensated under the law) unless said positions meet a list of strict requirements, so maybe Condé is simply acknowledging the fact that its internships will never meet those criteria. The more likely explanation is that someone determined that the work isn’t worth the headache. No winners here.

Merrill Lynch Settles Largest Racial Discrimination Suit in History

Could there be a less fortunate day on which to announce the settlement of the largest racial discrimination suit ever filed against an American employer?

That’s a no. The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington brings news (technically released last night) that big boy Wall Street brokerage firm Merrill Lynch finally settled the class action suit filed by more than 700 black brokers approximately eight years ago. The total of $160 million, to be divided among affected individuals who’ve worked with the company since 2001, stands as a confirmation of allegations that managers ignored the concerned parties, who were “ostracized by co-workers” and essentially forced into “poor producer” status.

Lynch’s first black CEO, E. Stanley O’Neal, even admitted that black employees rarely got the best work. Why? Because most clients were white and “might not trust” brokers who weren’t.

Wow. That’s what we call “a cultural issue”, not to mention a massive PR problem.

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What’s With the Robin Thicke vs. Marvin Gaye Lawsuit?

Hey hey hey. Yes, we’re a little late to this story. We’re a little late to this song. When we first heard the name Robin Thicke this summer we started humming the theme from Growing Pains before Googling him, thinking “George Michael is back?” and realizing that we are now officially old.

After hearing about the lawsuit and listening to “Blurred Lines” (no, we won’t link to it here), we have to agree that it sounds a bit like Marvin Gaye‘s “Got to Give It Up”. The similarity extends well beyond the cowbell, but at the same time the choruses clearly don’t match up.

So why did the new song’s authors feel the need to file a pre-emptive lawsuit against the Gaye estate? And why did they thank themselves for writing a “massively successful composition” in the complaint? Sure, any suit filed by the Gaye estate would have created a bit of bad publicity for Thicke and company, but is this scenario really any better? We would have advised them all to just let it go in the interest of not looking like litigious, overly defensive copycats.

Naked Juice Bares All in False Advertising Settlement

Naked Juice bottle Today in Put Your Clothes Back On news: we can add Naked Juice to the quickly growing line of foodstuff brands settling class-action lawsuits over deceptive health claims. Parent brand PepsiCo clearly missed the message about transparency being the best PR practice around, effectively admitting in the settlement that its “all natural” marketing claims are less than 100% accurate.

We’re not talking pasteurization here, people: the smoothie fakers include such “unnaturally processed and synthetic” ingredients as zinc oxide, ascorbic acid, and calcium pantothenate, all of which sound better suited to a meth lab than an orange grove (insert your Breaking Bad shout out here). In fact, that last one is derived from formaldehyde, to which we say: ewww, man. Ewww.

The juice may taste good, and it’s a hell of a lot healthier than much of the stuff we shove into our faces on a regular basis, but it’s hardly the “freshest” or the “purest” thing around, no?

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Paula Deen’s (Alleged) Racism Goes Viral

Paula Deen sure knows how to stir up trouble, doesn’t she? A recent lawsuit filed against Mrs. Ham-in-the-Face by the manager of her Savannah restaurant contains more than a few barely believable allegations, among them that she and her husband often used the n-word and that:

…white employees were free to use the customer bathroom at the front of the restaurant, but black employees had to use the facilities in the back.

A disgruntled employee stretching the truth? Possibly! But Deen landed herself and her brand in even more hot water today. While answering lawyers’ questions about her supposed desire to host an event catered by an all-black wait staff dressed in Antebellum-era outfits, she described a dreamy “plantation” wedding she wishes she’d planned herself:

The whole entire waiter staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie…That restaurant represented a certain era in America…I would say they were slaves…I remember saying I would love to have servers like that…but I would be afraid somebody would misinterpret.

Now how could anyone misinterpret that?

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First Lance Armstrong ‘False Advertising’ Suit Filed (by a PR Exec!)

We just couldn’t resist: today marks the filing of the first post-Oprah lawsuit against admitted liar and generally detestable person Lance Armstrong.

The issue at hand isn’t the fact that Lance cheated, ruined honest people with fake libel charges, or promoted a bunch of big brands after winning while on dope. No, it’s all about his books, see?

The two plaintiffs in the class-action complaint say that they bought Lance’s inspirational memoirs because they believed his story about a triumphant, dope-and-cancer-free return to the Tour de France. Upon discovering that the story was not exactly true, they felt “duped, cheated and betrayed” and decided to take his sorry ass to court for fraud. The suit accuses Lance and his publishers, Penguin and Random House, of committing acts of “false advertising” by selling the books as works of non-fiction.

Excuse us while we enjoy a guilt-free laugh.

The most interesting part of this story (to us) is the fact that one of the men filing the suit is “Rob Stutzman, a public relations executive who served as a deputy chief of staff for former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger“. He would certainly know a good bit about famous liars, wouldn’t he?

So will this suit go nowhere like the one against Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson, who fabricated portions of his books? Or will it lead to a settlement like the case filed against admitted fabulist James Frey? And what do we think about the fact that a veteran PR professional started it?

Hearst Prepares for Lawsuit Over Unpaid Internships

Hearst BuildingWe’ll begin this story with a disclaimer: Hearst is a Mediabistro partner. There you go.

That said, the publisher has a huge PR problem on its hands in the form of a big-news lawsuit—and its lawyers have begun to prepare by contacting affected parties in order to solicit positive testimony. We’re not quite sure that will work.

The story: When Diana Wang applied for an internship at Harper’s Bazaar, her only real goal was to make her mark on the fashion industry. She knew that it wouldn’t amount to a full-time job (it was her seventh unpaid internship), and she told New York Magazine of saving every penny in order to afford the opportunity to work as “head accessories intern” at Bazaar.

The work was considerable: Wang supervised eight other interns, and she claims that editors at the magazine told her that her internship “should be considered a real job.”

Unfortunately, the internship did not lead to the fashion gig she craved—or any other gig. Her supervisor was bold enough to tell her that she wasn’t ready for a job in fashion and that she should consider another internship. With that, she started considering her options. Given the fact that she worked a full-time schedule and drew no discernible benefits from the internship, Wang decided to file a lawsuit claiming that the internship was actually an unpaid job—and 3,000 other former interns joined her.

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