Back in Da Club

To bring the class a little entertainment in order to break from the traditional issues, the lawsuit I recently saw was between the rapper, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and a woman in Florida named Lastonia Leviston.  Miss Leviston issued a lawsuit against 50 Cent because of a video he released to the public. Lastonia and her now ex-boyfriend, Maurice Murray, made a video in 2008 that taped their most intimate moments in the bedroom.  Murray later sent that video to 50 Cent, without Lastonia’s permission, and 50 Cent edited himself in a character named “Pimpin’ Curly.”  “Pimpin’ Curly” proceeds to narrate the events taking place in the video. In 2009, 50 Cent released the video to the public without Lastonia’s permission once again and now is being sued by Lastonia for emotional damages.

At first I wondered why this woman that I had never heard about would have even mattered to 50 Cent.  After looking at a second article, the “beef” is not between Leviston and 50 Cent but actually between 50 Cent and his rap game rival, Rick Ross.  Lastonia Leviston is Rick Ross’ son’s mother.

The judge in New York claims that because Lastonia did not give permission for her boyfriend to release the tape to 50 Cent, then 50 Cent has no right to release it to the public.  50 Cent claims he was not the one to introduce the video to the public but if that is the case, is he liable to pay for emotional damages to Lastonia Leviston? Is it against her right to privacy if she did not consent but her partner did? In my opinion, I do not think 50 Cent is at fault here.  Maurice Murray made the video public by sending it to 50 Cent.  Shouldn’t he be the one liable for the damages?

I think Justice Scalia and Brennan would be at odds in this situation.  I think it’s pretty obvious that Justice Brennan would side with Leviston because as he say’s the Constitution needs to be flexible to the changing times, so must the right to privacy.  In an age of new technologies, video editing, and an extremely high use of the Internet, the justice system needs to take into account that people may not want to be on the Internet but can easily be roped in.  Just as in this case, Leviston did not want the video leaked to the public but obviously Maurice Murray did.

I think Justice Scalia would side with 50 Cent because he would say that the text doesn’t protect the victim from a third party that released the tape.  The right to privacy was lost when the video was made and given to 50 Cent by Maurice Murray.  In this situation, Murray would have released the video to the public and the damages would be at the fault of Murray.

I think it’s very obvious here that she is only going after 50 Cent because he has the most money.  She would not sue for under a million dollars, which I’m sure Maurice Murray does not have.  Also the amount of money sought after in this lawsuit is ridiculous, how can someone quantify the amount of emotional damages.  She would not have made the video if she thought it might get out in the public.  In my opinion, there is no case here.  A man she should not have trusted and needs to learn from her mistakes just swindled her and now she has to pay for it.

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7 Responses to Back in Da Club

  1. mernasyawish says:

    Great Post! I really liked how you compared Brennan and Scalia’s opinions with regard to the scandal and lawsuit. First off, I’m sure we can all agree that what happens in the bedroom should very well be kept ONLY in the bedroom and not recorded — it seems people will never learn! I agree with you that the person who should be at fault here is Murray, why isn’t she blaming HIM for giving out the video to 50 cent in the first place? It is plain and obvious she went after 50 cent solely based upon the amount of money he is worth. I loved the part where you stated, “Also the amount of money sought after in this lawsuit is ridiculous, how can someone quantify the amount of emotional damages.” — too funny, and so true! That case is absolutely ridiculous! Again, great article, I enjoyed reading it! 🙂

  2. Wunderkynd says:

    Thank you for sharing this post, but I have to respectfully disagree. This sounds like a case of revenge porn – when pornographic media is made public without consent of the individual, often by a pissed off ex-lover but can also be easily accomplished by hackers with an agenda. There are countless websites dedicated to revenge porn, where women (mostly) are subjected to the brutal and gross comments of the ENTIRE world, tearing down reputations, destroying jobs and relationships. These websites are third party operators who are in a position of power as they control the content of this type of porn. They usually refuse requests to take down media and, in effect, are just as guilty of sexual harassment as the person who uploaded it to the website (in my opinion, anyway – there aren’t any laws against this yet). Check out the below article.

    As for this case, 50 Cent is, like you said, a third party operator. Because of his position of power, however, (he’s famous and anything he does will get much attention) he has a reasonable duty to ensure that anything attached to his name – like this video that he edited and distributed – has the consent of the effected individuals. 50 Cent did not do this, and in fact distributed this video maliciously, with the intent to cause further harm to his rival Rick Ross via harm to Ross’s son’s mother, Lastonia Leviston.

    His lack of consent, his position of power, and that fact that it was his intention to hurt Leviston’s reputation is what makes 50 Cent liable.

  3. seancity971 says:

    I really enjoyed your blog and agree fully with your question of how can someone put a number to emotional damage when performing a lawsuite? It seems to me that people who claim “emotional distress” are by far the most manupulative and two sided. One million dollars is a nukber of unbelievable proportions and , to me, that just shows that she is doing it for the money not for her own well being. No one can know for sure what 50 cents intentions were (like in the comment above) and the second the video was done by a third party and not 50 cent, there is no evidence to prove the rapper guilty of anything.

  4. dalienthus says:

    I am a bit confused about how this is even a case. I was under the impression that she would have only been able to sue if her image was used in either sales or marketing of the intercourse. Generally if you wanted your image to not be used than you had to sign an agreement to limit your image’s use. It certainly can not qualify as libel because of the requirement that an individual’s character would have to be degraded as the result of a false representation. Thank you for your post. It is always nice to have a bit of a reprive from the standard that most of these posts follow.

  5. vcodrington says:

    I’d like to start off by saying excellent post! I feel as if you not only included the material we are learning in class via Scalia and Brennan but also making it contemporary by including a recent case involving the very hot topic “right to privacy”. The right to privacy is ever-changing, however in this case I believe it unfortunately does not work in Leviston’s favor. This is due to the fact that you mentioned 50 cent was a third-party and not the immediate distributor. It was not his fault that someone else released it publicly and then 50 cent utilized it to his needs. I can also agree that if this was not 50 cent she most likely would not be trying to sue at all, but because there can be a potential “pay out” she decides to price-tag her emotions. This case is pointless and should be dismissed on various terms.

  6. nicksalute says:

    Excellent post! Not only was I entertained by the controversial and somewhat absurd court case, but I really enjoyed how you linked the possible viewpoints of Scalia and Brennan as well. In my opinion I would have to take Scalia’s side on this one and say that Maury is the one to blame. This dispute is exceptionally relevant to our class because it draws a clear distinction between the interpretation and texualist’s perspectives; I can only imagine that cases similar to this one appear very often, where some might argue that a legal “penumbra” is present. Nevertheless, I agree that 50-Cent is not the one to blame, even though his actions could have been labeled as unreasonable.
    Once again, great contribution! It was definitely neat to see the placement of a somewhat difficult concept into a simple legal situation.

  7. The “right to privacy” refers to state intrusion. I’m fairly certain both Brennan and Scalia would agree no one is *constitutionally* protected from intrusion into their private lives by fellow citizens. Of course states and municipalities might have their own privacy laws that offer such protections. For example, New Jersey and California have laws banning revenge porn: And many states have anti-cyber-harassment laws, but those stem from British common-law traditions of the “right to be let alone.”

    From the Wiki article:
    “In the United States today, “invasion of privacy” is a commonly used cause of action in legal pleadings. Modern tort law includes four categories of invasion of privacy:
    -Intrusion of solitude: physical or electronic intrusion into one’s private quarters
    -Public disclosure of private facts: the dissemination of truthful private information which a reasonable person would find objectionable
    -False light: the publication of facts which place a person in a false light, even though the facts themselves may not be defamatory
    -Appropriation: the unauthorized use of a person’s name or likeness to obtain some benefits”

    Fiddy didn’t do any of that invading though.

    You’ll notice, that the proprietors of revenge porn sites IsAnyoneUp and UGotPosted have been hit with fraud and extortion charges, rather than anything related to violations of privacy. Like Fiddy, they published images and video that were given to them.

    So unless Leviston and Fiddy live within districts with revenge porn laws, Leviston has little recourse other than to sue Fiddy for emotional damages.

    Wunderkynd’s point that Fiddy is in a position of power and published the video with malicious intent is well-taken. It’s part of what makes people like Hunter Moore so despicable. The problem is if courts start holding third parties liable for the damages to the reputation and embarrassment they bring to people about which they publish information, free speech will be threatened in a big way. Remember, we’re not talking about libelous or defamatory speech here, we’re talking about factual information that embarrasses and damages reputations and causes emotional distress. A lot of important journalism falls under that category.

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