Image by shannonkringen via FlickrControversial filmmaker and political activist Michael Moore, 56, stands to receive $10,000 and attorneys' fees after a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington tossed invasion of privacy and misappropriation of likeness claims against him.
Magistrate Judge Karen Strombom's 17-page decision in Ken Aronson v. Dog Eat Dog Films, Inc. (Case No. C10-5293) applied for the first time Washington's revised anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute in ruling against Aronson, whose voice and image appeared in a 71-second snippet of Moore's Oscar-nominated documentary Sicko, which focused on the U.S. health care system.
Aronson's 1997 London footage of his friend Eric Turnbow sustaining a shoulder injury after walking on his hands appeared in Sicko without Aronson's knowledge or consent, though Turnbow executed a waiver. Aronson is heard singing Oh England Here We Go in the footage.
Copyright claims remain unresolved between the parties. Washington was in the vanguard of anti-SLAPP legislation, though 28 jurisdictions have enacted such bills, which are intended to derail meritless lawsuits that threaten the exercise of free speech.