People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals brings in the lawyer who won Loving v. Virginia to argue its case that SeaWorld violated the 13th Amendment rights of five orca whales, but a San Diego federal judge dismisses the suit. “Forty years ago I fought for the fundamental right of people to marry the person of their choosing, regardless of race,” attorney Phil Hirschkop says. “Now I’m fighting for these orcas’ fundamental right to be free from enslavement regardless of their species.”
A Florida man pleads guilty in late March to hacking into the personal email accounts of more than 50 celebrities, including Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and Renee Olstead. Christopher Chaney got Christina Aguilera to send photographs of herself “wearing very little clothing,” according to the indictment — shots that ended up on the Internet. Meanwhile, Lindsay Lohan wins release from probation for DUI. “Stop nightclubbing and focus on your work,” the judge advises.
Sharon Stone’s former nanny sues the actress for racial harassment and wrongful termination. Erlinda Elemen, who is from the Philippines, alleged that the star made derogatory comments about her accent, telling her that she didn’t want her children to “talk like you,” and fired her after learning that she was paying overtime for working seven days a week, including holidays.
Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. agrees in February to pay Marlon Brando’s estate $356,000 to settle trademark claims arising from its marketing of a line called “Brandos.”
The Secret Service interviews rocker Ted Nugent after he declares during a National Rifle Association convention, ” If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” Agents later say they consider the matter “ resolved.”
Members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists vote in late March to merge. They do so over opposition from 70 actors including Martin Sheen and Valerie Harper, who went to court in an attempt to block the merger.
THE MOUSE THAT ROARED
The mute half of magician duo Penn & Teller in April sues a Dutch entertainer for allegedly stealing his copyrighted piece of magic, called Shadows. Teller, né Raymond Joseph Teller, accused Gerard Dogge, whose stage name is Gerard Bakardy, of ripping off the trick in a YouTube pitch for his own book of magic tricks.
SIT ON IT
Cast members of the 1970s hit TV show Happy Days settle a lawsuit against CBS and will recover about $65,000 each in royalties, according to The Hollywood Reporter. They filed suit after actress Marion Ross learned of a Happy Days-themed slot machine. Ross, Anson Williams, Don Most, Erin Moran and the late Tom Bosley’s wife, Patricia, were the plaintiffs.
John Travolta brings in big-gun entertainment lawyer Marty Singer in August after a cruise ship attendant accuses him of sexual assault — this after two male massage therapists drop their $2 million lawsuit making similar claims. Fabian Zanzi alleges that Travolta disrobed in front of him and forcefully embraced him aboard ship in 2009 and offered him $12,000 to keep quiet.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
A federal judge in San Diego rules in May that Village People frontman Victor Willis may exercise his copyright-termination rights with respect to songs including “YMCA,” Bloomberg News reports.
Justin Bieber prevails in Round 1 of his legal fight with Android app maker RC3 over its “Joustin’ Beaver” game. The company had filed for a declaratory judgment of noninfringement on First Amendment ground, but in September a federal judge in Jacksonville, Fla., dismisses without prejudice, ruling that it didn’t belong in Florida.