Retired basketball great Tim Duncan has filed a lawsuit against a real estate agent who used his photograph as a celebrity endorsement. Photographer Sarah Brooke Lyons photographed Duncan for her 1005 Faces project which featured subjects holding a sign displaying a short personal message. Apparently, someone took the photograph of Duncan and inserted the agent’s business information. The photograph was then posted on the agent’s Facebook page with the caption “Wow! Just Wow! TD took the time to give us some love! Thanks Tim! We love you too man!” Now, they are facing a lawsuit seeking, among other things, punitive damages.
Undoubtedly, a Nevada licensee would also have to address the matter with the Real Estate Division. All advertising, whether for a licensee’s services or a client’s property, must not be false or misleading and must provide a true and accurate picture of what is being sold. NAC 645.610 (1)(a), NRS 207.171. Not surprisingly, false advertising is a crime. Interestingly, actual deception of a consumer is unnecessary (in other words, the consumer doesn’t need to have been actually deceived); any statement with the tendency to deceive is subject to the law. NRS 207.173.
Lee A. Drizin, Esq.