You know what's worse than getting your entire face seared off by an exposed power line? Well...not much, actually. But having a British tabloid forge your name on a contract in order to publish pictures of said face without your consent is pretty dang bad.
And that's what Dallas Wiens alleges in a petition for a restraining order against Barcroft Media, filed earlier this month in Tarrant County District Court. (A judge granted a temporary restraining order and set a hearing for a permanent injunction.)
Wiens, a house painter and father of three, underwent a rare face transplant in Boston in March, three years after he came into contact with the aforementioned power line while painting the outside of the Ridglea Baptist Church in Forth Worth. The accident eradicated his eyes, nose, and lips. In 2010, according to the complaint, the U.K.-based Barcroft began courting Wiens for a story in January 2010.
Barcroft, which runs intrepid articles with articles like "Stripper Mum and Daughter" and "I Starved Myself for Model Look," told Wiens "it wanted to publish a heartwarming human interest story...in the December or holiday issue of a British women's magazine," according to the complaint.
Wiens alleges that he signed a one-page contract giving Barcroft the right to photograph and videotape him and his family in exchange for $1,500 and the right to review the content before publication. He claims the contract did not grant Barcroft exclusive rights to his likeness and story.
After hounding Wiens, his family, and hospital staff, Barcroft then produced a contract -- purportedly signed by Wiens -- giving the publisher exclusive rights to the story.
"Plaintiff did not and would not have signed such a document, which contains unreasonable and unconscionable terms and purports to assign rights to Plaintiff's story for one British pound, which is less than two American dollars," the complaint states.
Wiens wants Barcroft to return all photos and footage, and he's seeking "exemplary damages for Defendant's fraudulent and malicious actions."
Barcroft says Wiens's allegations are simply not true. In a statement to Adweek's Janon Fisher, the company claimed it was "surprised and disappointed by the recent action brought by representatives of Mr. Dallas Wiens. We had enjoyed an excellent working relationship with Mr. Wiens and his family. The allegations brought in court proceedings are without merit, and we are working with our legal team to address them. Barcroft Media is a well-respected British media agency which is proud of its achievements and looks forward to setting the record straight."
Just for the record, "well-respected" media outlets do not pay for stories. But if you're going to pay a guy with three little kids, and who doesn't have a fucking face, isn't $1,500 kind of a cheap offer? Seems more like stripper mum and daughter money.
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