NEW YORK (Reuters) - Singer and actress Jessica Simpson has won an arbitration to keep an exercise video featuring her from being marketed.
The arbitrator’s decision was revealed in a court filing on Friday by lawyers for Simpson, 29. The lawyers asked a New York state court to approve the April arbitration ruling, which bars Speedfit LLC and its owner, Alex Astilean, from using Simpson’s name and likeness to promote the 2005 video.
The arbitrator awarded Simpson nothing on her breach-of-contract claim but awarded $357,587 to cover fees and costs. Astilean was ordered to pay Simpson’s business manager, David Levin, $50,000 for defamation.
Astilean said in an interview that he plans to challenge the arbitrator’s ruling. He said he had countersued Simpson for $10 million.
“I worked for one year to edit a very good video,” and now “my video is nowhere,” Astilean said. “We lost the house, we lost everything. We don’t know how we’re going to survive.”
John Rosenberg, a lawyer for Simpson, said, “My clients are extremely pleased with the arbitrator’s decision and are fully confident that the award will be confirmed by the court.”
Speedfit shot the video over three days in August 2005, the same month that Simpson appeared as Daisy Duke in the movie “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
Simpson and her business management company, With You Inc, accused Speedfit of failing to deliver a video fit for sale, despite having one year for editing.
In a 35-page ruling, arbitrator Kathleen Roberts called the case “particularly difficult” because Astilean had spent years developing the Speedfit system, and because the battle with Simpson was “personally and financially devastating” for him.
But she said “Astilean’s frustrations with what he believes to be the bad-faith conduct” of Simpson led him to unlawfully publish materials related to the video and to defame Levin.
Astilean said he has hired a lawyer, who did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Speedfit is based in East Hampton, New York, according to its website.
The case is With You Inc et al v. Astilean et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 106746/2010.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn