Woman gets new trial in ‘Girls Gone Wild’ lawsuit

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A judge has ruled that a woman who says producers of a “Girls Gone Wild” video used footage of her exposed breasts without consent can have a new trial, saying that a jury’s verdict against her was contrary to the weight of the evidence.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday that St. Louis Circuit Judge John J. Riley this week ordered a new trial for the 26-year-old woman, identified in court papers only as Jane Doe.

The woman sued in 2008, claiming that her reputation was damaged after footage of her tank top being pulled down during a video shoot four years earlier at a St. Louis bar showed her breasts exposed and was included in the “Girls Gone Wild” installment titled “Wild Sorority Orgy.”

The woman, who was 20 at the time and now is a married mother of two, said she became aware of her appearance in the video after a friend of her husband’s told her that she was in it.

Testimony during the trial last summer keyed on consent. The defense claimed the woman silently approved by taking part in the party; the woman insisted she refused to give consent.

Jurors deliberated about an hour and a half before rejecting the woman’s case, with the panel’s foreman later telling a reporter that an 11-member majority decided that the woman had, in effect, consented. The case required agreement by at least nine of the 12 jurors.

But in his ruling Monday ordering a new trial, Riley wrote that “it is clear from viewing the video that (the) plaintiff was an unwilling participant in the exposure of her breasts, and she can be seen visibly mouthing ’no’ and she immediately covered herself up after her top was pulled down.”

“It is apparent that plaintiff did not consent to her bare breasts being filmed and used by defendants,” Riley added.

During the first trial, the woman’s lawyers sought about $5 million in damages, including $1.5 million they claimed the producers made on the video installment of a “Girls Gone Wild” series in which women are encouraged to expose themselves at parties.

An attorney for the defendants — Mantra Films Inc. and MRA Holding LLC — said Thursday that Riley’s ruling left him “kind of shocked and surprised.”

“It was a pretty cleanly tried case, and the plaintiff got to present all the information they wanted,” David Dalton added. “I thought the jury did a great job in listening to all the evidence and making their verdict.”

Stephen Evans, the woman’s attorney, countered that his client is “very pleased and very happy to have the opportunity for another jury to decide on the case.”

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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