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Woman files suit over Super Bowl halftime show

By The Associated Press
02.06.04

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Terri Carlin wants to make Janet Jackson's bare breast into a federal case.

Carlin filed a proposed class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court this week against Jackson, singer Justin Timberlake, broadcasters MTV and CBS and their parent company, Viacom.

Carlin alleges in the Feb. 4 suit that she and others who watched the halftime show during the Super Bowl were injured by the performers' lewd actions when Timberlake ripped off part of Jackson's costume, exposing her breast.

In the lawsuit, Carlin charges that the exposure and "sexually explicit conduct" by other performers during the show injured viewers.

"As a direct and proximate result of the broadcast of the acts, (Carlin) and millions of others saw the acts and were caused to suffer outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury," the lawsuit says.

Carlin, who works in a bank, doesn't specify the type of injury allegedly suffered.

"All of the defendants knew that the Super Bowl, the pre-eminent sports event in the United States, would be watched by millions of families and children," says the lawsuit filed by Knoxville attorney Wayne A. Ritchie II. "Nevertheless, (they) included in the halftime show sexually explicit acts solely designed to garner publicity and, ultimately, to increase profits for themselves."

The lawsuit charges that the broadcast companies and the two singers violated an "implied" contract with viewers not to subject them to lewd actions.

"Families have an expectation that they can trust companies and individuals such as the defendants not to expose families to sexually explicit conduct during broadcasts of prime time events such as the Super Bowl," the lawsuit says.

Jackson has apologized for the incident, saying a red lace garment was supposed to remain over her breast when an outer garment was ripped away. She denied that the NFL, CBS, or MTV, which produced the halftime show for CBS, knew of her plans, and those entities all have condemned the performance.

The lawsuit says the broadcasters should have had a "sufficient broadcast delay" to censor the acts, even if they didn't know what Jackson and Timberlake planned to do on stage.

Carlin's lawsuit seeks billions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.


Update
Woman drops lawsuit over Super Bowl halftime show
Meanwhile in Texas, Harris County commissioner proposes 'morality clause' for performances at county-owned facilities. 02.11.04

Related

FCC launches probe into Super Bowl halftime show

Chief regulator calls performance in which Janet Jackson's breast was exposed 'a classless, crass and deplorable stunt,' says investigation will be 'thorough and swift.' 02.02.04

Super Bowl antics prompt debate about broadcast decency
Janet Jackson incident could have 'galvanizing effect' on the move to toughen standards, says FCC commissioner. 02.06.04

Flashpoint: Janet Jackson and government regulation of TV
By Ken Paulson It's a mistake to undermine free expression just because of the crassness of a Super Bowl halftime show. 02.06.04

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