Orlando Magic fan sues franchise over use of her image in ads

NBA fans are devoted to their favorite teams, often spending lots of money for little in return. For the most part, that transaction is accepted — fans stay loyal, and teams reward them with wins, playoff appearances, and sometimes even championships. Or, like me, those people are Golden State Warriors fans, and they spend entire decades feeling bitter due to little return on their investments.

However, regardless of a team's success rate, there are very few instances in which a team has reason to pay a fan with real-live American (or Canadian) currency. Of course, being the face of an advertising campaign would seem to qualify. And that's why one Orlando Magic fan is suing the franchise for using her image on ads all over town. From Stephen Hudak for the Orlando Sentinel (via TBJ):

The Orlando Magic billboard featuring Kristi Slavin's face shouted, "BE LOUD." And now she is. Slavin has sued the basketball franchise, claiming it used a photo of her face and upper body — without her permission — in a marketing campaign. The picture, taken at the Amway Center during the Magic's 2011 playoff run, shows the fan, now 30, in a Dwight Howard jersey, her arms raised and cheering. [...]

The lawsuit, filed last month by Winter Park attorney Hank Hornsby, contends the Magic profited from the commercial and promotional use of Slavin's face and body, but the team neither compensated nor consulted her. Magic spokesman Joel Glass said the team was aware of the lawsuit, but he would not comment further.

In the lawsuit, Slavin said the ads, banners and billboard have caused "uncomfortable and embarrassing encounters and questions" from friends, family and co-workers. The document alleges her public image was altered by the unauthorized use. "People have asked her, 'When did you get into modeling?' '' Hornsby said.

Slavin, a social worker who assists mentally ill and homeless clients in Seminole County and volunteers to help children who have been sexually abused, did not seek attention, Hornsby said. He described her as a private person who would not comment for this story.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $15,000, the statutory limit for a civil claim in Circuit Court.

Trey Kerby has already made the requisite joke about the shame of being outed as a Magic fan in the post-Dwight Howard era, so we can abstain from that business here. We should also probably decline to discuss the merits of the case, which are for the lawyers to figure out. Although, with $15,000 in damages at stake and blog publicity now in full effect, my guess is it will get settled out of court.

When reached for comment, Dwight Howard said he just hopes Miss Slavin still likes him.

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