Clint Eastwood Wins Default Judgment, $6M in Damages, After Cannabis Co. Appropriates Likeness

A Central District of California judge has entered a default judgment in favor of actor Clint Eastwood against Sera Labs, awarding the film star over $6 million in damages arising from the absent defendant’s use of his right to publicity to promote their cannabis products.

In the underlying matter, the plaintiff alleged that Sera Labs appropriated Eastwood’s likeness, placing him alongside cannabis products and manufacturing endoresments and interviews highlighting the products. The defendants have not appeared to respond to the lawsuit, and the court granted a default earlier this year.

The motion comes after an earlier attempt to secure a default judgment failed earlier this summer; in that instance, the plaintiff requested $30 million in damages, an amount that the judge did not feel the plaintiff had proven.

Last Friday’s ruling favored a much lower damages amount. To prove damages, the plaintiffs proferred the sole instance where Eastwood’s likeness was licensed, a Super Bowl ad for which the actor “accepted a fee…that was well below his market value because he felt strongly about its subject matter.” The $6 million amount was derived from what the plaintiffs argued was the amount they would charge for Eastwood’s endorsement of a “high-profile product for a 16-month online campaign,” plus a premium given the novelty of the product.

They also cited other endorsement deals from other celebrities, and a professor’s analysis of Eastwood’s market value to Sera.

While the court granted fees to the plaintiff for trademark law violations, it declined to award special damages as part of a libel per se allegation, finding that “the publication is not defamatory on its face” and requires additional context on the CBD industry to understand.

The plaintiff is represented by Nolan Heimann LLP.