Celebs who sued the paparazzi for going too far
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19.08.2017

Celebs who sued the paparazzi for going too far

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The paparazzi have been a thorn in the side of celebrities for about as long as the tabloid industry has existed, and as the demand for celebrity content continued to grow, so did the pesky photogs' overreach into the personal lives of the stars. From being accused of causing fatal car accidents to invading the privacy of young children, some of these sordid snappers pushed their famous subjects past their limits. These are the celebs who sued the paparazzi for going too far.  

George & Amal Clooney

Though George Clooney is one of the most famous celebrities on the planet, he and his wife, Amal, prefer to keep their private life out of the headlines. When a photographer for the French magazine, Voici, allegedly scaled a fence and climbed a tree outside of the A-List couple's Lake Como, Italy home in order to take pics of their one-and-a-half month old twins, Clooney snapped. The Money Monster star issued a statement to E! News in July 2017 saying, in part, "Make no mistake—the photographers, the agency and the magazine will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The safety of our children demands it."
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This is not the first time the tabloid industry intruded on the tequila magnate's luxe Italian estate. In 2009, Clooney told TMZ that a photographer climbed a wall and "took a topless photo of a 13-year-old girl changing in one of his guest rooms." The actor's statement said, "We're suing two magazines AND a photographer. I don't know about the law in the United States but in Italy it's illegal for photographers to climb over my wall and to take long lens pictures of a 13-year-old girl in her bedroom. I draw the line of privacy at that." Um, that sounds pretty shady here, too. Gross.

Dax Shepard & Kristen Bell

While Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell haven't taken legal action against the paparazzi, they still wield some of the loudest and most effective voices against media intrusion into celebrity life, especially when it comes to kids. The duo started a hashtag campaign and boycott called "No Kids Policy," which asks publishers of celebrity content to take a pledge to not purchase and/or publish "unauthorized" photos of celebrities' children. They even debated the owners of a paparazzi photo agency on Access Hollywood, arguing that there is an inherent moral conflict with taking photos of celebs' kids, even if they're in a public place.
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Amazingly, their efforts worked. Speaking with HuffPost, Bell said outlets such as People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and more agreed to "stop sharing, buying or posting photos of celebrities' children taken without consent." Bell also said that the effect of the agreement was felt by other famous parents, who have acknowledged that it "quite literally changed their day to day lives with their kids."

Halle Berry & Jennifer Garner

 
Prior to Shepard and Bell's unbelievably effective appeal to the moral conscience of the tabloid industry, another A-List team, Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, went directly for the legal option, even going so far as to aid in the passage of new legislation aimed at protecting celebrities' kids.
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In 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 606 into law, which, according to E! News, "increases the possible punishment for harassing celebrity kids—and clarifies the legal definition of harassment in such cases." Unlike Shepard and Bell's appeal to the consumers of the paparazzi product—the publishers and readers of the tabloids—Berry and Garner, along with others such as Adele and Nia Vardalos, took the fight directly to the photogs themselves.

In her statement regarding the legislation, Berry claimed the "overly aggressive paparazzi" has caused her "so much trauma and emotional distress." When Garner testified before the California State Assembly Committee on Public Safety, she framed the problem through her children's experience, saying, "They're beautiful and sweet and innocent, and I don't want a gang of shouting, arguing, lawbreaking photographers who camp out everywhere we are all day, every day, to continue traumatizing my kids."

Critics argued that the language required to make the bill conform to the protection of the press under the First Amendment renders the legislation effectively meaningless, but Garner told Yahoo Beauty that in combination with Bell and Shepard's initiative, her kids' lives have changed for the better. That has to count for something, right?
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Nicole Richie

Nicole Richie won a solid legal victory over paparazzo Fabricio Luis Mariotti in 2010 after he crossed the line of decency and was caught "lurking" at her then-2-year-old daughter Harlow's preschool, according to TMZ. After winning a temporary restraining order against Mariotti, Richie went a step further, seeking to make the restriction permanent on behalf of her child who she said was "frightened beyond words" by the actions of the pestering pap. 

Ron Galella, the OG of crazy paparazzo, waged his most tumultuous relationship with Jackie Onassis. Galella became obsessed with the former first lady in the 1960's and "tracked her" extensively throughout the next two decades, according to The New York Times "Asked and Answered" Q&A with Galella. He referred to his now infamous shot of "Windblown Jackie" as his "Mona Lisa," and seems proud of his long history of professional stalking, even though it got him slapped with restraining orders twice.

According to Circuit Judge J. Joseph Smith's account of Galella's rejected 1973 appeal, Onassis' first legal action against Galella came after his repeated intrusion into her children's lives, including appearing at their private schools, "interrupting Caroline at tennis," and "jumping out into John's path" as he rode his bike in Central Park. The latter altercation led to Galella's detention by John's Secret Service detail, which in turn led to a restraining order instructing him to stay away from Onassis and her family. Gallella reportedly violated the restraining order within two months and had a new one issued against him.

Gallela gleefully admits that despite all of that, he resumed his obsession and began shooting Onassis "from 1975 to 1982, when she took me to court again," according to The New York Times. In his defense, he showed the court "50 pictures of her smiling into the camera," because clearly that justifies his behavior, right? 
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Ugh. What a business.

Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed


The most tragic example of paparazzi overreach has to be the involvement of a cadre of photographers at the time of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed's horrific fatal car crash in Paris in 1997. After an inquest into the death of Diana, Fayed, and their driver, Henri Paul, a jury found that "the crash was caused or contributed to by the speed and manner of driving of the Mercedes, the speed and manner of driving of the following vehicles, the impairment of the judgment of the driver of the Mercedes through alcohol."
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The important passage there is "the speed and manner of driving of the following vehicles," because that implicates the paparazzi, who had followed Princess Di and Fayed from their hotel to the scene of the wreck that night. Though French authorities charged nine photographers with manslaughter, conflicting eyewitness reports and an inability to accurately place them at the scene at the moment of the crash led to the charges being thrown out, according to The Guardian. In fact, of all the paparazzi relentlessly pursuing the couple in the days leading up the crash, only three were ever convicted for the much lesser charge of "invasion of privacy for taking pictures of the couple." They were each fined one euro. 

Prince William & Kate Middleton

In 2012, the French magazine Closer published topless photos of Kate Middleton that were taken, without consent, while she and Prince William vacationed at a French estate. A French court ordered the magazine to "hand over all digital copies" of the photos or face a $10,000 euro/day fine until it complied. The magazine did so, but by that time the photos had already been published internationally by various other outlets, according to Yahoo News. Closer paid a relatively paltry fine of $2,000 euros.   
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Four and a half years later, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge filed a lawsuit against the two suspected photographers, as well as the editor of the magazine and chief executive of its parent company, seeking $1.5 million euros in damages "to add to 'significant fines' against the guilty parties," according to the Daily Mail. Likening the invasion of privacy to memories of the way his mother died, Prince William said via a statement to the court, "The clandestine way in which these photographs were taken was particularly shocking to us as it breached our privacy."  

In a tone-deaf response to the royal couple's complaint that is eerily similar to Galella's distorted perception of his pursuit of Jackie O, a lawyer for Closer magazine said, "It was an extremely flattering representation of the couple, so I don't really understand the bad lawsuit against us." Yup, that sounds like a million and a half euro defense right there.  

Jennifer Aniston
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In 2016, Jennifer Aniston penned an essay for HuffPost that went viral for its hardline stance against what she described as the "absurd and disturbing" objectification of women and their bodies via the tabloid industry. The Friends star has been doing battle with the paparazzi for years.

In 2003, Aniston won a $550,000 settlement from Francois Navarre, the owner of Los Angeles paparazzi agency X-17, after one of its photographers allegedly "scaled a neighbor's 8-foot wall" to take shots of Aniston sunbathing topless in her backyard. 

Two years later, she was back in court, this time suing photographer Peter Brandt for allegedly using "'a high-powered telephoto lens to capture images of her partially clothed within her property." The suit also claimed that the photos "could have been taken only by means of trespass," meaning, once again, that the actress was violated in her own home. The suit was ultimately settled for an undisclosed amount, according to CBS News. In his defense, Brandt claimed "he took the photos while standing on a public street about 300 yards away from Aniston's home."

Adele

Aside from J.D. Salinger, there may not be a more reclusive celebrity than Adele. To protect her precious privacy, she not only lent her star power to California's Senate Bill 606, but she also hauled the paparazzi into court over photographs taken of her infant son, Angelo. 
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According to E! News, Adele and her then-boyfriend, now-husband Simon Konecki, filed a suit against Corbis Images after Angelo's "milestone moments, such as his first family outing and his first trip to playgroup, were photographed and published worldwide expressly against his family's wishes."

Adele won the suit, and Corbis agreed to pay a five-figure settlement in "damages and legal costs to Angelo" as well as never use the pics again. Granted, these photos of a child playing on a playground may seem tame in comparison to the dangerous stalking antics and surreptitiously taken topless shots of other celebs, but for someone like Adele, who has called fame "frightening" and "very toxic," it was obviously a bridge too far.  

Caitlyn Jenner
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In 2015, Caitlyn Jenner was involved in a fatal multi-car accident on the Pacific Coast Highway. In the tragic chain reaction, Jenner rear-ended Kim Howe, sending her into oncoming traffic, which led to the head-on collision that killed Howe. Though Jenner was not charged with any crimes relating to the accident, she later settled a wrongful death suit filed by Howe's stepchildren for "a modest amount," according to TMZ.

Several months after that settlement, Jenner filed a lawsuit against some paparazzi who she claims were tailing her that day. According to People, Jenner's suit, which describes the photographers as "the Stalker Defendants," states, "As a direct consequence and result of this stalking, harassing and distracting conduct, [Jenner] was visually distracted, and the negligence and reckless conduct of the Stalker Defendants did contribute to the cause of an accident where seconds and split seconds mattered."

Though Jenner was cleared of criminal wrongdoing and settled one civil suit, she still faces legal action from the other drivers involved in the accident, namely the driver who had the head-on collision with Howe. For this reason, California personal injury lawyer Thomas J. Lewellyn believes Jenner's suit against the paparazzi is nothing more than a shrewd legal maneuver aimed at mitigating any further compensatory damages incurred from additional civil suits. Regardless, it should now be abundantly clear that chasing people on the highway to get a photo is a terrible idea.
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