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Cardi B did not mislead court when asking for trial date to be moved, judge rules

By | Published on Friday 15 October 2021

Cardi B

A judge has ruled that Cardi B did not mislead a Californian court when asking to postpone an upcoming trial date because of travel concerns, even though she subsequently flew to France for Paris Fashion Week.

The rapper – real name Belcalis Almánzar – is being sued by model Kevin Brophy over what he says is the unauthorised use of his image on the cover of her 2016 mixtape ‘Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1’. The publicity rights dispute had been due to properly arrive in court this month, but last month those proceedings were pushed back to February at Almánzar’s request.

Explaining why she wanted to push the trial date back in papers submitted to the court last month, she cited the recent birth of her second child, adding that she currently wanted to keep travel to a minimum, especially given the ongoing COVID concerns. She and her husband – Migos’ Offset – have homes in Georgia and New Jersey, ie on the other side of the country to the court in California.

However, shortly after submitting those legal papers, Almánzar spent a week in Paris, prompting Brophy to ask the court to sanction the rapper for lying about being unable to travel.

Responding to Brophy’s latest claims, she said that the Paris Fashion Week jaunt was a last minute work trip that was “important” for her career. Both of her children remained in New York with her mother while she and Offset travelled to France. Throughout the trip, she added, the utmost care was taken to reduce the risk of either of them contracting COVID-19, and she regularly contacted her mother and children via FaceTime.

This was vastly different to the arrangements that would have been necessary for a full-blown trial in the Brophy dispute, she went on, saying: “A trial date in October would have required us being in Southern California for up to three weeks or more. The children would have had to be looked after here in California, away from me for extended periods while I would be gone for trial preparation meetings, travelling to and from court, and in the courtroom all day every day during the trial”.

Ruling on Brophy’s request for sanctions yesterday, the judge sided with Almánzar. According to Rolling Stone, judge Cormac Carney wrote: “Travelling to Paris Fashion Week was different than traveling for this trial: whereas she was able to leave her newborn baby in New York in the care of her mother and a baby nurse for the short trip to Paris, she would not be able to make such arrangements for the lengthy travel required to prepare for and attend the trial in this case”.

Brophy accuses Almánzar of illegally using his likeness on the artwork for her mixtape. The model’s image was inserted into the artwork so that it appeared as if he was performing oral sex on the rapper. You can’t actually see Brophy’s face, but he argues that his distinctive back tattoos made it super obvious that it was him in the image. And that infringed his publicity rights, his lawsuit claims.

Almánzar tried to have the case dismissed last year, arguing that the designer who created the artwork significantly altered the original photo of Brophy’s back. Therefore, the use of the photo was “transformative fair use” and not an infringement of Brophy’s publicity rights under Californian law.

The judge conceded that the photo had indeed been altered, but added that “significant elements of plaintiff’s tattoo remain untouched in the final album cover”, meaning the rapper’s fair use arguments would need to be considered by a jury.