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Judge Judy is suing a lawyer over an alleged unauthorized endorsement. Judith Sheindlin (real name!) has an axe -- err, gavel -- to grind with John Haymond, a personal injury attorney based in Hartford, Connecticut.
As surprising as it may be, Judge Judy says this is the first time she has ever sued anyone, the Associated Press reports.
Unfortunately, the case probably won't be featured in an episode of "Judge Judy."
In the lawsuit, Sheindlin claims Haymond's firm aired television advertisements combining footage from "Judge Judy" along with clips showing Haymond and his daughters to make it seem like they're interacting. He allegedly did this without permission, the AP reports.
Making matters worse, the advertisements aired in Connecticut and Massachusetts during broadcasts of her show, and continued even after Sheindlin's producer told the firm in March 2013 that use of her image was not permitted.
If these allegations are true, his use may constitute a false endorsement.
Judge Judy filed suit against Haymond, alleging false endorsement under federal law and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, reports The Courant.
Under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, false endorsement occurs when a person's identity (typically a celebrity's identity) is connected with a product or service in such a way that consumers are likely to be misled about that person's sponsorship or approval of the product or service.
Judge Judy claims that the ads falsely imply that she endorses or is somehow affiliated with Haymond's law firm. The false endorsement allegedly harmed her because it could hurt her reputation: "I have chosen for all of these years on television to maintain my reputation by not endorsing other people's products and services, despite many offers to do so, because I believe that it is inconsistent with my judicial career,'' Sheindlin said, accord to the Courant.
Though she's suing for $75,000, the case will likely settle out of court. Any money she obtains through the lawsuit will go toward college scholarships through the Her Honor Mentoring Program, the AP reports.
The lesson here: Never mess with Judge Judy.
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