SANTA MONICA, Calif. – O.J. Simpson has won a legal battle against the father of a murder victim who had sought control of the former football star's publicity rights to help satisfy a judgment in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Superior Court Judge Linda Lefkowitz rejected Fred Goldman's petition, determining such a move would harm a living celebrity's privacy rights "which mitigate against court-enforced transfer of the (publicity) right to obtain commercial profit from his or her likeness."
A call to O.J. Simpson was not immediately returned Thursday. His attorney praised the judge's decision.
"There has never been a case in the U.S. where a judge has involuntarily taken somebody's identity rights," attorney Yale Galanter said in a telephone interview from Florida. "If she did, the Goldmans would be able to speak on behalf of O.J. Simpson. They'd be able to use his image without his approval."
Goldman's attorney declined comment, saying he has not seen the judge's ruling, which was issued Tuesday.
Simpson was acquitted in a criminal trial of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. However, Simpson was later found liable in 1997 in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Goldman family.
In September, Fred Goldman asked the court to grant him the rights to Simpson's name, image and likeness to cover the damage award.
Goldman contended Simpson was making money from appearances and autograph signings that should be used to satisfy the wrongful death judgment he estimated at $38 million (euro29.76 million) in damages and interest. During an Oct. 17 hearing, he said he was offended upon learning that Simpson made an appearance at a "slasher" convention.
"Mr. Simpson has, in fact, exploited his fame by such ghoulish activities as appearing at a 'slasher' convention which exhibited videos and other forms of communication glorifying acts of violence not dissimilar from those which caused the death of plaintiff's son," Lefkowitz wrote. "But to base transfer of the right of publicity ... raises substantial procedural — if not constitutional issues — involving due process rights."
Galanter disputed Goldman's characterization of the event.
"He was hired to make an appearance at a card signing, and that's what it was," Galanter said.