A jury has awarded Priscilla Presley $1.74 million in compensatory and punitive damages against a group of film producers and publicists who used her name to promote a proposed film.
Producers Bud Grant and Robert Burge, whose 3rd Entertainment banner was developing the film, were also found to have acted with fraud and were the only defendants ordered to also pay punitive damages.
The lawsuit stemmed from a press release disseminated by publicist Lee Solters that falsely stated Presley would act as a consultant to a film based on “Child Bride — the Untold Story of Priscilla Beaulieu Presley,” an unauthorized biography.
At several stages of the litigation, the case took interesting twists as attorneys for the defendants attempted to test First Amendment issues and right to publicity statutes, but without success.
The judgment follows a nine-day jury trial that ended in April. Attorneys have received notice of the judgment, which still must be entered into the record.
The court also issued a permanent injunction against the defendants, preventing them from forever using Presley’s name or likeness.
“Priscilla spent a lifetime acquiring her good name and reputation,” said attorney Martin Singer, of Lavely & Singer, who defended Presley. “I hope that this substantial judgment will deter others from wrongfully using not only Priscilla’s name, but the names of other celebrities as well.”
Presley sued Grant, Burge, 3rd Coast Entertainment, Solters and his Lee Solters Co.
Stanley Stone, who represents the defendants, wouldn’t comment. Solters also refused comment.
Presley also previously sued Currie Grant, one of the primary sources for the biography, and obtained a defamation judgment against him last year.
“I was elated and completely vindicated by the verdict,” the former Mrs. Elvis Presley said in a statement. “I have always done everything in my power to protect my name, and I am willing to continue to do so in the future if that’s what’s necessary.”