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September 12, 2000 12:29pm
Firm Emerges Victorious in Magazine Litigation
Source: Playgirl Magazine
by: Company Press Release

LOS ANGELES--(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)--Sept. 12, 2000--A federal court in Los Angeles has entered a complete defense judgment in favor of Playgirl magazine in a case brought by a former model in the magazine.

The magazine was represented by Kent R. Raygor of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP in Los Angeles.

Berto Luna, a self-described lifeguard/bodyguard who posed for the November 1993 issue of Playgirl magazine, sued the magazine in October 1998 claiming that Playgirl had violated his privacy and appropriated his likeness without compensation by using his nude photographs in subsequent issues.

The court ruled in favor of Playgirl and against Luna on all claims. Luna was also ordered to pay Playgirl $68,678.20 as partial compensation for the attorneys' fees and costs it had to incur in responding to Luna's lawsuit.

In an unusual twist, the Court also sanctioned Luna's attorney, Jeffery Rubenstein, for his bad faith litigation of the case and ordered him to personally pay Playgirl $40,630.70 to partially compensate it for the fees and costs it suffered due to his conduct during the litigation.

In making that ruling, the Court stated: ``Attorneys have the responsibility to represent their clients vigorously. But they also are required to avoid subjecting opposing parties, opposing counsel and the court to vexatious, rule violating misconduct.

``Unfortunately, this case exemplifies the disastrous consequences that can result to a client and opposing parties and counsel when an attorney fails in a most blatant manner to discharge these responsibilities.''

Playgirl magazine attorney Kent R. Raygor is Chair of Sheppard Mullin's Intellectual Property & Technology Department and practices extensively in the area of First Amendment, privacy, and libel law. In the First Amendment area, he has represented Playgirl in cases involving actors Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Aniston and others; CNET News.com against Microsoft; Cineplex Odeon Corp.; director Martin Scorcese; and Universal/MCA Pictures. Raygor can be reached for comment at 213/617-4251.

Sheppard Mullin is the eleventh-largest law firm in California with nearly 300 attorneys in four offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, and San Diego. Sheppard Mullin is a full-service firm specializing in litigation and antitrust, labor and employment, corporate and securities, banking and finance, intellectual property, tax and estate planning, and real estate.

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