American Apparel, Woody Allen Settle Billboard Lawsuit for $5 Million

legalize LA AA ad.jpgAmerican Apparel is known for many things: affordable, domestically-produced cotton basics, admirable labor practices, Terry Richardson-esque advertisements, a controversy-courting CEO with the memorable moniker of Dov Charney, and getting slapped with lawsuits, lots and lots of lawsuits. The latest legal battle for the company, which went public in 2006 through an acquisition deal valued at $260 million, stemmed from two American Apparel billboards that depicted actor and director Woody Allen as a Hasidic Jew—with the help of a doctored frame from Annie Hall. Allen, not amused, sued the company for $10 million, prompting CEO Charney to issue a statement describing the billboards as “a parody/social statement and comedic satire to provoke discussion and public discourse about the baseless claims that had been made against American Apparel and myself, society’s reaction to lawsuits that delve into an individual’s private sexual life, and the media’s sensationalism of such matters.”


After a judge threw out American Apparel’s motion to dismiss Allen’s violation of privacy suit on First Amendment grounds, a trial was scheduled to start on Monday in Manhattan. It didn’t, because Allen agreed to settle the case for $5 million, a sum that he described as “enough to discourage American Apparel or anyone else from trying such a thing again.” Meanwhile, Charney blames his insurance company for making him settle. “For the record, I personally think we had a good case,” he wrote in a blog post announcing the settlement. If only Allen was more of a shopper. “In his deposition, Mr. Allen said that he had never heard of American Apparel or me prior to the billboard,” noted Charney. “I believe that if Mr. Allen became more familiar with the company, he might appreciate some aspects of American Apparel specifically our commitment to creativity.”