ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A New Mexico woman said a company put her high school graduation photo on a product she never approved of. Now she’s suing the novelty company behind the product.
A flask with a photo of a woman from the 70s, next to the phrase, “I’m going to be the most popular girl in rehab!” is now the center of a lawsuit.
“She’s certainly offended by the use of her image in that fashion, and honestly, by the use of her image at all,” explained A. Blair Dunn, the Plaintiff’s Attorney.
Dunn is representing the woman pictured on the flask, Veronica Vigil, of Chimayó. When Vigil’s daughter noticed the flask at a novelty shop in Florida last summer, Dunn said Vigil did not find it funny.
“Especially coming from a community, Espanola, Chimayo, Santa Fe community, she’s very aware of the problems with drug and alcohol abuse in those communities, and she certainly wouldn’t make light of it in that fashion,” Dunn told KRQE News 13.
The picture is Vigil’s 1970 high school graduation photo from Pojoaque. Vigil claims the company behind the flask, Anne Taintor, never contacted her about using her image.
Vigil claims the image on the flask does not represent her, and she’s upset she’s associated with the product. The complaint states, Vigil is “an active member of her church and does not consume alcohol or drugs.”
In a response to the complaint, Taintor’s attorney said “sometime prior to 2010; Anne Taintor, Inc. purchased the Plaintiff’s high school graduation photograph, which was for sale.”
“It’s interesting they said they purchased the image, they don’t say where or from whom, or any of the rest of the really kind of pertinent information,” said Dunn.
“We kind of suspect that they perhaps bought it at a garage sale, that somebody else just had a copy of it and it got picked up at a rummage sale somewhere,” Dunn added. He said they don’t believe the company knew who the woman in the photo was before Taintor used it for profit.
KRQE News 13 reached out to Taintor’s company. An attorney representing Anne Taintor wouldn’t comment on the case, citing pending litigation.
Taintor’s company creates and sells similar novelty items. Items depict vintage photos of women, next to slogans that appear to state what the person in the photo is thinking.
One flask on their website shows a well-dressed woman, next to the phrase, “the voices in my head are all demanding drinks.” Taintor’s website states, “making smart people smile since 1985.”
Dunn told KRQE News 13, although some people find the product humorous, his client does not. Dunn said his office tried to get the issue resolved before filing the lawsuit, without success.
“I received an email from Anne Taintor at one point when we first started talking that basically said ‘well, most people find this stuff funny – get over it.'” Dunn called the company’s response, “a really flippant way to think about somebody’s reputation.”
The image was pulled from Taintor’s website, but the flask is still sold on Amazon for $25.
Other products with Vigil’s face have been sold around the world. “Defendants have profited substantially from the unauthorized and defamatory use of Plaintiff’s image,” the complaint states.
Dunn said local stores, such as Cost Plus and the Talin Market sold the products as well. The Santa Fe novelty shop, ‘Doodlet’s,’ is named in the suit for selling the products.
Dunn said Taintor’s company hasn’t indicated to his office that they’ve told retailers to stop sales of Vigil’s image. “They’re just unconcerned with the harm that they’ve done,” said Dunn.
Vigil is suing for defamation, invasion of privacy, and unfair trade practices.
An attorney for the Santa Fe company named in the lawsuit told KRQE News 13 Doodlet’s didn’t sell these flasks, and they don’t believe they should be included in the suit.