Nestle USA won its appeal of a $15.6 million jury verdict against it in favor of a former model who posed for the label of its Taster's Choice coffee. The model asserted statutory and common law appropriation claims for the wrongful use of his image and violations of his right of publicity. A jury found Nestle liable for $333,000 in damages and over $15.3 million of Nestle's profits which the jury attributed to the use of the model's immage. The California Court of Appeal reversed.
The Court of Appeal's decision recites a few important principles. First, the opinion held that the single publication rule applied to these misappropriation claims. The impact of that holding is that the allegedly wrongful publication of an image gives rise only to one cause of action. Second, the court's opinion held that, for statute of limitations purposes, the discovery rule did not apply to those who had "a meaningful ability to discover the violation." The court directed the trial court to determine whether the model had such an ability to discover the alleged violations of his rights and to limit any claims to two years from the date the violations should be discovered.