Sacramento – A California woman has filed a lawsuit against Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. after it was alleged that the fast food chain used her photos to promote the establishment without her consent.
Leah Caldwell from Sacramento is reported to have filed the lawsuit in California against the establishment and a photographer stating that they used her image without her agreement for ‘commercial gain and in violation of her reasonable expectation of privacy,’ reports the Daily Mail.
The lawsuit was subsequently filed by Caldwell in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. It was later transferred to the U.S. District Court in Colorado, naming both Chipotle founder and CEO Steve Wlls and the photographer Steve Adams as defendants.
In court papers, Caldwell states that she was eating at the Chipotle restaurant near the University of Denver in 2006 when the photograph was taken that was used by the eatery without her permission. She alleges that when she was leaving the restaurant, a photographer approached her with a release form to use the images, but she says she refused to sign these.
It was only eight years later, however, in December 2014 when Caldwell first noticed that the photo was being used by Chipotle when she discovered her photo on the wall of a restaurant in Orlando. A year later, she found the same photo in other Chipotle locations in California.
The suit is reported as stating that Chipotle bought the photo from Adams without first checking to see if the photographer had obtained the rights first from the subject.
As Nasdaq reports, Caldwell claims that the images of her were distorted by Chipotle by changing her hair texture, adding groups of people in the background and including alcoholic beverages in the foreground that were not present in the original photo.
She is reported as saying that she considers the use of photoshopping of alcoholic beverage bottles to ‘put a false light upon her character associated with consuming alcoholic beverages.’
Caldwell is seeking a total of $2,237,633,000 from Chipotle, claiming this to be the amount of money the establishment made from the use of the photo between 2006 and 2015. Once the Chipotle profits for 2016 are made public, the suit is calling for that amount to be added to the total.
This latest lawsuit comes after another one was filed against Chipotle last month, which saw several customers allege that the company had advertised that their burritos only had 300 calories when they in fact contained up to 1,000 as the Daily Mail adds.
News of this lawsuit aren’t expected to do much for the chain’s reputation after sales are reported to have nose-dived in November 2015 when the chain was linked to an multi-state E.coli outbreak, reports the Daily Mail. Sales then declined in December after around 80 Boston College students are reported to have been sickened by norovirus traced to a Chipotle restaurant.
In a bid to lure customers back the restaurant has been offering free and discounted food to diners.