Canadian pop-punk-rockers Sum 41, known as much for their outrageous video antics as their music, might think twice about their next stunt if one Rochester, New York, man has anything to say about it.
Michael Sudore recently filed two lawsuits against the band, alleging that bandmembers heckled and threw a hot dog at him at a local minor league baseball game, secretly taped the whole incident and included it without his permission on the DVD that accompanied their 2002 album, Does This Look Infected?
Sudore's suits, filed earlier this month in state and federal court, seek damages totaling $6 million plus attorney's fees from the band, Universal Music Company, Island Def Jam Group, Lucifer Productions and Aquarius Records in Quebec, and music and video producer Grieg Nori, each of whom the suits claim were involved in some aspect of creating and distributing the DVD.
Sudore, who is in his 40s and owns a home-improvement business, did not become aware of the DVD's existence until one of his clients, who has children, questioned him about it, according to his lawyer, H. Todd Bullard. Since then, Bullard said, Sudore has experienced psychological trauma and adverse effects in his business because of his inadvertent association with Sum 41.
"He believes his reputation has been tarnished, obviously," Bullard said, "and in addition, it's continued damage each time they sell one [of these DVDs]. Not to mention the humiliation. They picked him out because of his distinct look and pelted him with a hot dog, then surreptitiously taped him and his reaction, and not in the most flattering way."
Unlike some other states, New York law recognizes the unauthorized use of any person's image — whether he or she is a public figure or not — as a violation of civil-rights law. Sudore's suit takes that one step further, arguing that what Bullard calls Sum 41's "malicious intent to embarrass [Sudore] and make him look terrible" makes the offense even more egregious.
The band could not be reached for comment, and Bullard has not received a response to the suits from any of the defendants.