BY TIM O'NEIL • email@example.com > 314-340-8132 | Posted: Friday, July 23, 2010 12:02 am
ST. LOUIS -- A jury on Thursday rejected a young woman's claim that the producers of a "Girls Gone Wild" video damaged her reputation by showing her tank top being pulled down by another person in a Laclede's Landing bar.
A St. Louis Circuit Court jury deliberated 90 minutes before ruling against the woman, 26, on the third day of the trial. Lawyers on both sides argued the key issue was consent, with her side saying she absolutely refused to give it and the defense claiming she silently approved by taking part in the party.
The woman, identified in court files as Jane Doe, was 20 when she went to the former Rum Jungle bar in May 2004 and was filmed by a "Girls Gone Wild" video photographer.
Now married, the mother of two girls and living in the St. Charles area, Doe sued in 2008 after a friend of her husband's reported that she was in one of the videos.
"I am stunned that this company can get away with this," Doe said after the verdict. "Justice has not been served. I just don't understand. I gave no consent."
But Patrick O'Brien, the jury foreman, told a reporter later that an 11-member majority decided that Doe had in effect consented by being in the bar and dancing for the photographer. In a trial such as this one, agreement by nine of 12 jurors is enough for a verdict.
"Through her actions, she gave implied consent," O'Brien said. "She was really playing to the camera. She knew what she was doing."
Told of that reasoning, the tearful woman said, "I was having fun until my top was pulled off. And now this thing is out there for the world to see forever."
David A. Dalton II of St. Peters, lawyer for the defendants, said, "The jury listened to the evidence and made the right decision." Dalton said he knew before the trial began that the general reputation of "Girls Gone Wild" videos presented him with a challenge.
Crews that produce them travel to taverns, beaches and other tourist spots and publicly encourage young women to disrobe. The videos include other sexually charged episodes.
The woman's lawyers had asked for about $5 million, including the $1.5 million they estimated the company has made on the video in question, called "Girls Gone Wild Sorority Orgy."
Stephen Evans of St. Louis, her lawyer, argued Thursday that Doe never gave consent — and even could be heard in original footage saying "no" when asked to show her breasts shortly before another woman suddenly pulled Doe's top down. Evans said the company usually gets women to sign consent forms or give verbal consent with cameras rolling.
"Other girls said it was OK. Not one other one said, 'No, no,'" Evans said. "She is entitled to go out with friends and have a good time and not have her top pulled down and get that in a video."
Doe filed suit against MRA Holding LLC and Mantra Films Inc. of Tulsa, Okla. No executives testified.
Robert Patrick of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
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