Jury sides with GGW founder Joe Francis in St. Louis

Posted on August 2, 2010


“Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis finally has a reason to throw one of his outrageous parties. A St. Louis jury has found in favor of Francis’ Mantra Films in a $5 million lawsuit brought by a woman who claimed that “GGW” had “damaged her reputation” by distributing a video of her dancing provocatively in a local bar. The jury found that although she didn’t sign a release, she had no expectation of privacy by playing to the camera. The video in question? “Girls Gone Wild: Sorority Orgy.”

“This is just one more example of someone trying to make a quick buck off Girls Gone Wild by making false accusations against our company,” Francis said in a statement released after last Thursday’s verdict.

“At the same time, this is also another great example of someone who got their ass kicked in a court room by a smart judge and a smart jury who saw the truth. Girls Gone Wild will always vigorously defend ourselves against anyone who makes such outrageous and defamatory allegations. Girls Gone Wild has NEVER lost a jury trial.”

Maybe. But Francis’ legal record is far from unblemished. In a 2009 plea agreement, he plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of filing false tax returns. He paid a $250,000 fine and received credit for 10 months’ jail time served. And just last week, Francis’ own law firm sued Mantra in California. Keats McFarland & Wilson represented Francis when he sued several mobile content businesses and wireless providers, including giants AT&T and Verizon, for allegedly distributing content under a “Girls Gone Mobile” banner that allegedly violated Mantra’s trademark on “Girls Gone Wild.” The case settled in July. The defendants agreed to fork over about $184,000.

But the money is sitting in escrow at the law firm, instead of in Francis’ coffers. That’s because a few years ago, Francis hired a company by the name of Revenue Enhancement Consultants to boost sales. The company later claimed it was owed commissions and went to arbitration to press a breach-of-contract claim. An arbitrator ordered Mantra to pay $75,000. Ever since, REC has been trying to collect, including intervening in the mobile trademark case by filing a Notice of Lien.

Keats McFarland & Wilson now wants a district court to decide where the settlement money should go.


Posted in: The Anti News