What’s in a name and a little cross-dressing? Well, neither may not be a successful source for litigation in Texas. A federal court in Austin has dismissed Gabriel Seale’s complaint against Warner Bros Entertainment, asserting that the studio’s Tango & Cash movie, specifically the character Gabriel Cash, defamed, libeled and slandered Seale because they share the same first name. (Thanks to entlawdigest.com opinion here.)
Seale watched the cop-bro flick in 1990 with a group of friends, in Modesto, Calif., at age 16 and claimed his reputation was harmed. He says he was teased by friends because he shares the same first name as the protagonist Cash (Kurt Russell) who in the film dresses as a “woman with lipstick, a woman’s miniskirt, and woman’s high heel shoes.”
Let’s see how the court decided to tell this plaintiff to take a powder:
To prevail with a defamation claim, Seale had to prove that Warner Brothers “(1) Published a statement; (2) that was defamatory concerning the plaintiff; (3) while acting with negligence regarding the truth.” Additionally, “[a]n action for libel requires a publication to a third party of written defamatory words about the Plaintiff, while slander requires defamatory words about the plaintiff to be spoke, without legal excuse to a third party.”
The court, which allowed him to proceed in indigent status, ruled that Seal failed to prove that WB published a defamatory statement concerning him. They noted, “the fact that a character in a movie shares the same name as Plaintiff does not demonstrate that the movie is about him.”
The court also declared that Seale’s claim was time-barred because under Texas law, “the plaintiff must bring a defamation suit no later than one year after the day the cause of action accrues” or under the discovery rule, “…the injured party learns of, or…should have learned of the injury….” Seale learned of the alleged defamation in 1990 but did not take action until 2014.