Curtis J. Jackson III, the rapper popularly known as 50 Cent, will be able to move forward with his lawsuit against a medical spa that used his photo on social media as an endorsement for penile enhancement surgery.
According to Jackson’s complaint, he was in Sunny Isles Beach on February 1, 2020 when Angela Kogan, the owner of Perfection Plastic Surgery & MedSpa, asked for a selfie with him. Jackson posed with Kogan in front of a backdrop that said “PERFECTION MED SPA,” though Jackson said at the time he believed Kogan “simply wanted a photograph with [him] exclusively for her own private enjoyment.”
Later that day, though, Kogan posted the photo on both her public Instagram account and Perfection’s public account, along with a caption reading, “Thank you @50cent for stopping by the number one med spa” and including hashtags “#50cent #bhperfectionmedspa #perfectionmedspa #medspa #celeb #vip #facial #laser.”
That photo, which Jackson included in his lawsuit, is shown here.
Jackson alleges that in the year to follow, Kogan posted the same photo five times on the social media accounts, always without Jackson’s permission.
Jackson goes on to allege the following: on August 17, 2022, a celebrity gossip media outlet known as The Shade Room published an article titled “Penis Enhancements Are More Popular Than Ever & BBLs Are Dying Out: Cosmetic Surgery CEO Angela Kogan Speaks On It.” The article had been pitched by Kogan’s publicist, and on the day it was posted, Kogan reposted the article and a photo with Jackson, this time with a side-by-side “close-up shot of a medical provider presumably performing a penile enhancement procedure on a patient whose face is not visible and whose genitals are obscured by an eggplant emoji.”
The side-by-side photo is seen below:
Kogan also posted a video that scrolled through the article and the photo with Jackson with links to the story. During the video, a quote from Kogan appears where she says, “At the moment we are seeing a major shift in men getting plastic surgery . . . [m]en have really stepped up and are getting more surgery than we think.”
Jackson sued Perfection Plastic Surgery & MedSpa and Kogan in federal district court in Florida for unauthorized misappropriation of his likeness, invasion of privacy, false endorsement, false advertising, conversion, unjust enrichment.
In November 2022, Jackson posted about the case on Instagram. Jackson wrote “yeah my d_ck is a BIG DEAL set for trial in july no enhancement necessary,these fools put them selves out of business.” SMH #bransoncognac #lecheminduroi
View this post on Instagram
Kogan moved to dismiss all counts and Scola denied the motion in an 11-page order. Now, all claims will move forward toward trial.
U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr., a Barack Obama appointee, ruled Monday that Kogan’s video was “fatal” to her motion to dismiss.
In his order, Scola noted social media users’ reactions to Kogan’s posting, as detailed in Jackson’s court filings:
Users responded to the video with crude commentary such as “@50cent Can I see the before and after pics?”, “Call him 50 inch [ ]”, and “Why they got 50 cent up there talking bout [ ] enlargement[.]”
[The defendants] weakly argue that Jackson consented to the photo’s being uploaded on to Instagram while making no mention of Jackson’s consent/non-consent as to the screen capture video and the promotional value it doubtlessly served. That omission is fatal. Both the Tweet and the article, which appear in the video posted by the Defendants, indisputably place Kogan’s photo with Jackson next to images and text that promote penile enhancement surgery and the Defendants’ business.
Because Jackson argues he did not consent to anything other than private use of a photo, and because the Instagram posts clearly imply Jackson’s endorsement, several of his claims against Kogan and her spa may move forward.
As for the false endorsement claim, Kogan attempted to argue that her postings did not actually show Jackson endorsing her spa’s services, because her services were not explicitly mentioned in the photos.
Scola made short work of that defense, writing, “That is simply wrong.” The judge continued, “As the proverbial saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words,” and explained, “This one in particular depicts a worldwide celebrity next to Kogan with MedSpa’s name repeated all throughout the background.”
“The promotional value is evident,” Scola concluded.
In his complaint, Jackson requested unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. A trial date has been scheduled for the case on July 3, 2023.
Jackson’s attorney declined to comment on the ruling.
Counsel for Kogan did not immediately respond to request for comment.
[Images via court filings]
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