Mauriello Law Firm Defeats Motion to Dismiss, Wins Remand to Los Angeles State Court in Battle Over Images for Photographer Friend of Late Actor Paul Walker
The Mauriello Law Firm, representing plaintiff Lucas Wimer, successfully opposed a motion to dismiss Mr. Wimer’s claims filed by Defendant Reach Out Worldwide, Inc. (“ROWW”). ROWW is a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation founded in 2010 by the late Paul Walker, a well-known television and film actor, who died in 2013. After organizing and funding trips to Haiti, Chile and other locations to provide relief to people suffering from natural disasters, Mr. Walker founded ROWW as a vehicle to provide further humanitarian aid to people in distress around the world. Mr. Wimer was a lifelong friend of Mr. Walker’s and accompanied him on numerous humanitarian trips including to Haiti and Chile prior to ROWW’s founding, during which Mr. Wimer took photographs and video recordings of the trips.
ROWW has since merchandized and sold through its website photographs and video recordings created by Mr. Wimer as well as clothing and other merchandise containing these images. These include an iconic photo taken of Mr. Walker in 2010 at the airport in the Dominican Republic in which he is praying and wearing a bandana, as well as video footage from a 2010 Haiti trip, a 2010 Indonesia trip, a 2010 Chile trip, and a 2011 Alabama trip.
The other Defendant, Represent Holdings, LLC, on information and belief assisted ROWW in the design, merchandising, and sales of merchandise that contained Mr. Wimer’s works, including but not limited to tee shirts and other clothing items, sold through Represent’s website as well as through ROWW’s website.
Mr. Wimer has never given consent to ROWW or Represent for their use, commercial distribution, or sale of any of these works, and he seeks compensation for these works and for Defendants’ use, merchandizing and sales of them.
Mr. Wimer’s Complaint was filed on January 31, 2017 in Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles and contains the following causes of action: 1) conversion, 2) unjust enrichment, 3) Unfair Business Practices under Business & Professions Code Sec. 17200 et. seq., and 4) Receiving and/or Concealing Stolen Property in violation of Penal Code Sec. 496 (which provides a private right of action).
Defendants removed the Complaint to the United States District Court for the Central District of California, which Court denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint and ordered the case remanded back to the Superior Court. A link to the July 13, 2017 Order issued by United States District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew can be found here: