Actress Elena Aroaz is suing the producers of a commercial she was in for breach of contract. Aroaz portrayed a victim in a wrongful injury case for the Levinson Trachtenberg Group’s tongue-in-cheek commercial. The ad took off and the rights were sold to multiple law firms across the U.S without approval from the actress. The suit was filed by Aroaz in Manhattan Supreme Court and alleges that Levinson Trachtenberg Group paid her $600 in 2009 to appear in a 30 second advertisement that was only supposed to air on local television for a year.
In the ad, the actress stares into the camera while talking about the terrible pain she is in because of her “injury”. She states “It’s like I had this huge machete chopping down on my hand every time I moved,” (Ross, 2013). Her body language, tone and facial expression implied she was in great pain. “Someone has to pay”(Ross, 2013). she says as she exposes her index finger covered with a small green band aid revealing that her injury was a paper cut. Bold letters roll over the screen stating “There are some cases even we can’t win” (Ross, 2013). Because the ad was such a sensation Levinson Trachtenberg Group got in on the action by selling the commercial licensing rights as well as the rights to her image to other U.S. law firms. Some of these firms began using her image on billboards advertising their legal services.
The lawsuit claims that the producers made deals with several firms across the U.S and earned $250,000 from selling her work without compensating her. Aroaz confronted Levinson Trachtenberg Group about using her image on a billboard in Arizona, and they reportedly paid her an additional $1,500 as a result. It was later discovered that the law firm paid the producer $20,000 for the licensing rights, more than 13 times the amount Aroaz received. Aroaz is now suing the law firms that used the commercial as well as the producers. She is asking for compensation close to $1 million dollars. All parties have yet to comment on the suit.