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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

California man alleges tobacco imagery in films should be rated R

By Robbie Hargett | Mar 2, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - A California man is suing the major Hollywood studios and the film rating service in an attempt to give films an R rating if they contain tobacco imagery.

Timothy Forsyth of Hayward, California, individually and for all others similarly situated, filed a class action lawsuit Feb. 25 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), The Walt Disney Company, Paramount Pictures Corporation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios, Warner Bros. Entertainment, and National Association of Theatre Owners, alleging negligence, fiduciary duty, fraudulent misrepresentation, unfair competition, false advertising, negligent misrepresentation, and private and public nuisance.

The suit states the defendants created the MPAA to advise and warn parents and children regarding film content that the average U.S. parent would find inappropriate or unsuitable for children under 17. Since at least 2003, according to the suit, the MPAA and the other defendants have known that exposure to tobacco imagery in films rated G, PG, and PG-13 is one of the major causes of children becoming addicted to nicotine.

Numerous health experts, including from the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association, have provided the defendants with recommendations to eliminate youth exposure to smoking in G, PG, and PG-13 films, and to assign an R rating to future, films that contain smoking imagery, the suit states.

The defendants, however, continue to assign G, PG, and PG-13 ratings to films that contain tobacco imagery, the lawsuit states.


Forsyth and others in the class seek a jury trial, declaratory and injunctive relief, damages, restitution, attorney fees, and other costs of the suit, together to exceed $5 million. They are represented by attorneys Jeffrey F. Keller, Carey G. Been and Sarah R. Holloway of Keller Grover in San Francisco, attorney David Schachman of the Law Offices of David Schachman in Chicago, and attorneys John G. Jacobs and Bryan G. Kolton of Jacobs Kolton in Chicago.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Case number 3:16-CV-00935-SK

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U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Walt Disney Company

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