• 'Fiji Water Girl' sues company that gave her big break

    By: Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    She was in the spotlight more than the stars walking the red carpet at the 2019 Golden Globes, but now the model known as the Fiji Water Girl has sued Fiji and its parent company.

    Kelleth Cuthbert, whose real name is Kelly Steinbach, says Fiji Water and The Wonderful Co. misappropriated her likeness and violated her right of publicity, Entertainment Tonight reported.

    Kelleth Cuthbert is seen standing behind Jamie Lee Curtis at the 76th annual Golden Globe® Awards, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 in Beverly Hills, Calif. Cuthbert is now suing Fiji Water.
    Matt Sayles/Invision for FIJI Water/AP

    She claims the company created a “worldwide cardboard cutout marketing campaign based on the unauthorized use of [her] photograph, likeness and identity.”

    She also claims Fiji official added her into known photographs and movie stills for social media posts.

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    Fiji Water replied to the suit through a statement to Entertainment Tonight. The company called it frivolous and without merit.

    “After the Golden Globes social media moment, we negotiated a generous agreement with Ms. Cuthbert that she blatantly violated. We are confident that we will prevail in Court. Throughout our history, we have had a sterling reputation working with talent,” company officials said.

    She said that the company tried to get her to allow them to use her likeness and she felted pressured to recording a simulation of her signing a document. But she claims the document wasn’t a real legal agreement and not signed by Fiji Water, Entertainment Tonight reported.

    Her attorneys say Cuthbert generated $12 million of “brand exposure.”

    She’s asking for both compensatory and statutory damages.

    Cuthbert came under fire from stars who did not want to be part of an advertising campaign during the awards night.

    Jamie Lee Curtis released a statement after Cuthbert photobombed her red carpet moment E News reported.

    Curtis said that she tried to move from the advertising promotion. 

    “I knew why there was a photographer poised there and I moved away as I said out loud that I didn’t want to be doing advertising for either,” Curtis said. “Clearly this angle shows that I moved from her being behind me and yet from the side it still happens.”

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