DENVER (Legal Newsline) – A lawsuit against Chipotle Mexican Grill involving a California woman who alleged unlawful use of a photo has reached a settlement.

Plaintiff Leah Caldwell notified the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in May that the case was dismissed with prejudice. Settlement terms were confidential. Chipotle did not respond to a request for a comment.

Caldwell alleged that she was sitting inside a Chipotle restaurant in Denver in 2006 when a photographer took a picture of her. When she left the restaurant, Caldwell said she was approached by the photographer, who asked her to sign a release form, which she declined to do.

The photographer, Steve Adams, and CEO of Chipotle, Steve Ells, were also named as defendants. Caldwell was suing for $2.2 billion. At the time, she was faced with unemployment and had only $100 to her name, as Legal Newsline has previously reported.

In 2014, Caldwell alleged she visited several locations of Chipotle restaurants, one in Florida and two in California, and saw the photograph of herself displayed on the walls. She alleged that the defendants had used her image unlawfully and distorted it with editing.

“Defendants had distorted plaintiff’s characteristics in subsequent photos adding distortions: textures to the hair, groups of people in the background, and bottles in the foreground which were not present in the original setting,” the complaint states.

Caldwell alleged that Chipotle failed to get legal permission from her to use the photo after they purchased it from Adams. She claimed her “reasonable expectation of privacy” had been violated.

Caldwell believed that Chipotle profited from the photo and, after accessing Chipotle’s public annual reports, alleged she was entitled to $2,237,633,000. She believes this number she came up with reflects Chipotle’s profits gained from between 2006 and 2015. 

Caldwell represented herself in the complaint. 

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U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Denver Division
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