Lindsay Lohan’s lawsuit against rapper Armando Perez, known as "Pitbull," has been dismissed, and the actress’ attorney in Long Island has been fined $1,500 after the judge found evidence of plagiarism in her court papers. The lyrics of Perez’s song "Give Me Everything" include the passage "So, I’m tiptoein’, to keep flowin’ / I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan." In her suit against the rapper and record companies, Lohan claimed that use of her name violated New York’s Civil Rights Law. But Eastern District Judge Denis Hurley (See Profile) ruled in Lohan v. Perez, 11-cv-05413, that the lyrics are a protected work of art under the First Amendment. Hurley also found that Lohan’s name was not used in the song for advertising or marketing purposes of trade, an element needed to prevail.
"Here, plaintiff’s name is mentioned one time in only one of 104 lines of the Song," he wrote, calling it an "isolated" reference. He also dismissed Lohan’s claims of unjust enrichment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Defense attorneys also claimed Lohan and her attorneys, Stephanie Ovadia in Long Island and Anand Ahuja in Queens, should be sanctioned because the court papers they filed to oppose the motion to dismiss were plagiarized from online articles and other materials. The judge said that "a review of this comparison reveals the vast majority of the opposition appears to have been taken from other sources without any acknowledgement or identification of those sources." Hurley said Lohan and her lawyers did not dispute the plagiarism accusations.
Ovadia, in a letter to the court before the decision, said she contacted defense counsel to submit an amended opposition for filing, "which would have obviated any alleged plagiarism concerns," but it was rejected via email. But the judge said that in comparing the original papers with the proposed papers none of the changes would have corrected the plagiarized portions.
Hurley fined Ovadia $750 for "this undoubtedly false representation to the court." He added another $750 after finding "that almost the entire text of (opposition to dismiss papers) is taken from the unidentified, unattributed sources." The judge said, "Obviously, this type of conduct is unacceptable and, in the court’s view, is sanctionable pursuant to its inherit powers." He noted that Ovadia and Ahuja dispute which of them drafted the final version of the opposition to dismiss papers, but Ovadia signed the papers, leaving her "solely liable for the sanctionable plagiarism."
Hurley denied the defense’s requests for sanctions in the form of attorney fees, writing the claims were not frivolous and the defense failed to show how it was prejudiced by the plagiarism.
In a statement, Pery Krinsky, who represented Ovadia for the sanctions motion, blamed Ahuja for the plagiarism. "We fully recognize the serious nature of this matter. At the time, Ms. Ovadia did not know, nor could she reasonably have known, of Mr. Ahuja’s misconduct. Thereafter, Ms. Ovadia acted properly in all respects, by retaining ethics counsel to duly investigate this matter." Krinsky added: "Regrettably, Ms. Ovadia trusted her co-counsel, Mr. Ahuja, with whom she had a courteous and professional working relationship over a number of years. Ms. Ovadia has been deeply affected by Mr. Ahuja’s misconduct, which deceived the Court, Ms. Lohan, the public and Ms. Ovadia."
When reached for comment, Ahuja said he was not co-counsel for Lohan. "I do not believe in blame games," he said, adding he filed papers with the court that affirmed he was not co-counsel. "My affidavit clearly says that I was not an attorney for her."
Commenting on the dismissal of the suit, Marcos Daniel Jimenez, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in Miami, who represented the rapper and other defendants, said, "It’s an important decision that supports the First Amendment rights of artists to express themselves in their songs."