Online Mugshot Lawsuit: Settlement Reached
A federal lawsuit over three Ohio mugshots has resulted in a settlement with the owner of two major mugshot websites.
The settlement between the parties was signed by a federal judge in late December. It calls for Citizens Information Associates LLC (the corporate owner of BustedMugshots.com and MugshotsOnline.com) to pay $7,500 and remove the offending mugshots for free, a lawyer for the company told The Plain Dealer.
This lawsuit is one of many against mugshot sites around the country, so how is this one different?
3 Mugshots Down, Millions to Go
Three "mugs" -- Debra Lashaway, Phillip Kaplan, and Otha Randall -- joined to sue several mugshot websites that had posted photos from when they were booked after arrest.
Both Lashaway and Kaplan had never actually been convicted of the crimes for which they were arrested, but had to endure seeing their unflattering mugshots in ads all over the Internet, reports the Plain Dealer.
Their suit claimed that the websites were essentially profiting off these arrestees' mugshots and violating their rights to publicity. The suit also took issue with exorbitant "takedown fees" (sometimes as much as $500) to remove a mugshot from one of these sites.
Attorney Scott Ciolek, who represented the plaintiffs, explained that the case was filed as "an attempt to move ahead as a class action lawsuit," but the potential costs of litigation narrowed the case to just three people, reports the Plain Dealer.
This leaves the hundreds of thousands of mugshots in Ohio alone unaffected.
A Victory Against Mugshot Websites?
Despite the narrow scope of the settlement, Ciolek called the case a "victory," reports the Plain Dealer.
Ciolek did manage to get his clients' mugshots taken down at no cost to them, as well as a few thousand dollars in settlement money. Interestingly, Joseph Centrich, an attorney for Citizens Information Associates LLC, noted that the company's sites already have agreed to stop charging to take down the photos, according to the Plain Dealer.
While BustedMugshots.com has come to the light, other sites like mugshots.com are still in business, and may be the subject of future lawsuits.
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