‘Tyra Banks Show’ Not Liable For Lying Teenage Guest

‘Tyra Banks Show’ Not Liable For Lying Teenage Guest

by Jerry Glover
September 7, 2012

The mother of a guest on a 2009 episode of “The Tyra Banks” show has lost her case against the show who allowed her 15-year-old daughter to appear on the show without the mother’s consent. The child had lied to the show’s producers about her age and about being a sex addict just so she could get on the show.McClendon v. Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., No. 10-CV-3254 (N.D. Ga. July 24, 2012). The plaintiff mother had claimed that the show violated her daughter’s right of privacy and that the producers were negligent in using the daughter as a guest on the show.

The daughter went to great lengths to insure that the show producers believed who she said she was—a sex addict. Here are some of the things she did: she forged her mother’s signature on a consent/release form for the show and on the day before she was to depart for the show, she called producers, impersonating her mother, to claim she (the mother) was sick and could not accompany her “daughter” but that her uncle would accompany the daughter (the man was not really her uncle). The mother was unaware of her daughter’s activities prior to the taping of the show.

After the plaintiff filed suit, Warner Bros. moved for summary judgment claiming there were no material disputes as to the relevant facts of the case so that the trial judge can decide the case rather than referring it to a jury after full trial. As to plaintiff’s claim that the show had invaded her daughter’s privacy, the court noted that Georgia state law did not recognize a cause of action for invasion of “relational” privacy. The court explained that the show had not used the plaintiff mother’s name or likeness so she had no invasion of privacy action of her own. The court added that in Georgia a person cannot assert a claim for invasion of privacy on behalf of another. The plaintiff might have been able to file a complaint alleging invasion of privacy on behalf of her daughter, but that is not how she filed the lawsuit.

As to the plaintiff’s negligence claim, the plaintiff cited a Georgia statue that required minors employed as an actor/performer in films, radio, TV and theatre to get the written consent of the state Commissioner of Labor before the minor could be employed. OCGA Sec. 39-2-18(a). The court noted the minor had been paid for her single appearance on the show but that payment, a single appearance, did not amount to employment. The court reached the same conclusion in connection with another Georgia statute that required a school superintendent to verify a child’s fitness for employment; again, the show did not employ the minor so the statute was irrelevant to this matter. The court added that the statutes gave no personal cause of action to parents or anyone else. It only requires involvement of the Commissioner of Labor or a school superintendent. Therefore, the show had no statutory duty toward the plaintiff.

The plaintiff cited a third Georgia statute claiming that it required the defendant to obtain parental consent before allowing the minor onto the show. The statute states that a child remained under the control of the parent who is entitled to “the child’s services and the proceeds of the child’s labor.” O.C.G.A. Sec. 19-7-1(a). The court noted this statute merely allows parents to keep the income earned by their children but it imposes no duty on the defendant producer.

The court granded Warner Bros.’ motion for summary judgment.

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