Kirsten Syvette Wimberly, 25, claims that a former ninth-grade friend whose real name is Lara Madden, took her stage name from Wimberly, causing “extreme embarrassment and unsubstantiated association with the pornography industry and other consequences” due to “invasion of privacy, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
According to court documents, Wimberly recently found out from an acquaintance that there was a woman appearing in adult video productions using her name. Wimberly and Madden had been friends in junior high school, but Wimberly said their relationship ended in conflict and she had lost contact with Madden after Madden left high school.
Court documents stated, “Specifically, defendant Madden deliberately chose to use plaintiff’s name as her ‘stage name’ for her pornographic performance career despite knowing the potential consequences for the plaintiff.”
“Defendant Vivid recklessly chose to accept and highly publicize plaintiff’s name as though it was defendant Madden’s name and without regard to the true person and identity of the name in question,” the document further stated.
Madden, under the name “Syvette Wimberly,” has appeared in several titles for Vivid including “Cuties Who Go All the Way,” “Cum Hither” and “Asses Ripped Apart,” as well as releases from other studios, including Teravision’s “Desperate.”
Attorney Reed Lee of Obenberger and Associates based in Chicago, Ill., told XBIZ, “In regards to Vivid, ‘negligent’ infliction of emotional distress is not actionable. It’s got to be intentional or at the very least reckless.
“There is a good definition of ‘recklessness’ from the Model Penal Code, which says that ‘reckless’ is the intentional disregard of a known risk. That is, negligence occurs when you should have known better. Intent occurs when you did know and you did it anyway. Recklessness is when you actually knew that something might be amiss and you didn’t bother to check it out,” Lee said. “It is very unlikely, absent from specific allegations, that a corporation would know that a model’s chosen nom de porn was taken from a high school enemy, deliberately to hurt the high school enemy.”
In terms of whether or not the real Wimberly has a case against the defendant Madden, Lee said, “I think it goes to show the difficulty of showing that choosing a name in the abstract is actionable by one who happens to share the name chosen.
While it may have bearing on the case that Wimberly and Madden were previously acquainted and apparently ended their association on bad terms, Lee pointed out the plaintiff, in order to have an actionable case, might have to show that Madden deliberately set out to damage Wimberly’s reputation by somehow causing people to believe that it was the plaintiff appearing in adult videos.
In a statement, Vivid said, “it is aware of the lawsuit through the media but has no comment as it has not been served.”