Psychic's Lawsuit Heads to the Next Dimension

Court House News Service/August 10, 2011

Fort Lauderdale, Florida -- A medium can sue the psychic hotline she says used her name and image without permission, but her new employer cannot act as co-plaintiff, a federal judge ruled.

Self-professed psychic Linda Georgian allowed Zodiac Group to use her name and image in its advertisements for telephone psychic entertainment services. But she said Zodiac Group continued using them, even though their contract ended.

Georgian sued Zodiac Group, David Felger and Daniel Felger. She filed an amendment to add her new employer, Interactive Information Networks (IIN), as a plaintiff and Matthew Perez as a defendant.

In defense of its standing, Georgian and IIN proffered a contract that they said shows Georgian granted IIN an exclusive license to use her name and likeness.

The agreement failed to sway U.S. District Judge James Cohn, however.

"Georgian's naked assertion that her agreement with IIN is 'exclusive' does not make it so," he wrote, adding that "Georgian and IIN obviously executed this contract solely for purposes of the instant litigation."

The judge dismissed IIN as a defendant last week, finding that the company lacked standing.

"IIN, however, has never utilized Georgian's name or likeness, nor has IIN ever operated a psychic network," the 31-page decision states. "In other words, IIN is not in competition with Zodiac."

Finding that all of Georgian's claims had merit, however, Cohn denied the defendants' motions to dismiss the six counts under Lanham Act, anti-racketeering law and other statutes.

"Evidence, taken in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, shows that Zodiac made outbound calls that stated Georgian was affiliated with the company even though she was not," Cohn wrote. "Also, some callers who called Zodiac and asked for Linda Georgian were told that Georgian was affiliated with Zodiac even though the parties' agreement had already terminated. Lastly, Zodiac's website represented that Georgian endorsed Zodiac even though she did not. The question therefore becomes whether such representations 'misrepresent[] an inherent quality or characteristic of the product.' The court finds that it does."

Last month, the judge refused to let Zodiac strike Georgian's expert witness, the general counsel of BMG's Latin division Leslie Jose Zigel.

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