Saturday, April 01, 2006

A model of how not to succeed under California law

Bezuszka v. L.A. Models, Inc., 2006 WL 770526 (S.D.N.Y.)

Even juicy allegations about young models won’t always help in court. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants offered them lucrative modeling contracts based on their performance in defendants’ heavily advertised modeling contests and then failed to pay or help plaintiffs land modeling jobs, resulting in large damages.

Though plaintiffs’ breach of contract claims survived a motion to dismiss, their fraud and intentional misrepresentation claims failed because they couldn’t plead fraud to get damages unavailable for a breach of contract. Relatedly, they couldn’t state a claim under New York false advertising law because the defendants’ practices didn’t have a broader impact on consumers at large; private contract disputes unique to the parties don’t fall within the New York statute’s scope. (Unlike many other modeling contests, the defendants’ didn’t charge an entry fee to each contestant; possibly the result would have been different if there had been a fee.) Similarly, plaintiffs’ California law claims were dismissed because an Unfair Competition Law action isn’t a substitute for a garden-variety contract claim and there was no harm to the general public.

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