It looks like that Hailey Clauson Urban Outfitters lawsuit may happen after all.
Back in August, the 16-year-old model’s parents decided to take legal action against the retailer — as well as t-shirt brand Blood is the New Black, boutique Brandy Melville, and photographer Jason Lee Parry — alleging that a “salacious” photo of then-15-year-old Clauson had been used without their permission. The photo is a clothed crotch shot of sorts, and shows Clauson with her legs spread as she sits atop a motorcycle. It was lensed by Parry, and printed on a Blood is the New Black tee sold at Urban and Brandy Melville. The Clausons sought $28 million in damages.
Urban and Blood is the New Black claimed they were unaware that Parry had not gotten a release for the photo. However, Parry alleged that Ford (Clauson’s agency at the time) okayed a magazine spread that included the photo in question, and that the photo was posted both to Clauson’s online Ford portfolio and on her personal blog. He also said he didn’t know the picture was chosen for t-shirt reproduction by Blood is the New Black. Parry even took to Good Morning America to defend himself.
Urban, Blood is the New Black, and Brandy Melville sought a dismissal of the case, but a New York federal judge has rejected their claim that “Clauson’s suit is procedurally defective”, so the legal proceeding will indeed move forward. According to WWD:
The judge said that Clauson “has sufficiently alleged a cause of action against Urban Outfitters for use of her image to create false endorsement or false designation of origin, as well as claims for false representation of the characteristics or qualities of plaintiff’s modeling services.” He added that the plaintiff showed sufficient cause that Urban used her image in violation of the New York Civil Rights Law. She also showed cause in common law libel against the retailer.
We can’t help but wonder if the Clausons’ case is less about the “salacious” image and more about the fact that they didn’t make money off of it. We don’t exactly trust her parents’ or agent’s judgement — Clauson starred in a far more disturbing set of photos for Pop, and walked in runway shows as a 15-year-old despite the CFDA’s model guidelines. Regardless, it seems like the Clausons do indeed have a legal case and could walk away with quite a pretty penny.