February 3, 2017
Authored by: Bryan Cave, Leila Knox and Nick Williamson
Could a promotional photograph of a restaurant scene that includes a customer with her hand partially obscuring her face be worth more than $2 billion? That’s what a lawsuit brought by the customer claims.
In an action pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, plaintiff Leah Caldwell of Sacramento, California, who is representing herself, claims the restaurant chain Chipotle used the “iconic” image of her for advertising between 2006 and 2015. The lawsuit includes a claim for right of publicity under California’s misappropriation statute, stemming from Ms. Caldwell’s allegation that she is “readily identifiable and depicted in the photograph as a woman of color wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt, hair up, and large eyes looking directly at the camera.” Ms. Caldwell says that she was approached by the photographer on the day of the photo shoot, which took place at a Chipotle restaurant in Denver, Colorado,