According to documents filed in a California court case, bodybuilder Michael O'Hearn is earning good money pursuing actions for unautorized usage of his photograph in comercial ads. Here is an exceprt from a 2004 case in Califronia entitled:
2004 Cal. App. LEXIS 129,*;115 Cal. App. 4th 491;
9 Cal. Rptr. 3d 342;2004 Cal. Daily Op. Service 916
MICHAEL O'HEARN, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. HILLCREST GYM AND FITNESS CENTER, INC., Defendant and Appellant; AUDUBON INSURANCE GROUP, Intervener and Appellant; DIRECT MARKETING ENTERPRISES, INC. AND REDD GARDNER, Defendants and Respondents
"In January 2001, the matter came on for a jury trial on [*6] O'Hearn's cause of action against Hillcrest, the sole remaining defendant. As noted in footnote 1, ante, because Hillcrest was a suspended corporation, the trial court approved a stipulation by the parties allowing Audubon to intervene in the action for purposes of defending the matter.
One of the major issues at trial was O'Hearn's damages. Over Hillcrest's objection, the trial court allowed O'Hearn to introduce two settlement agreements he obtained in unrelated cases for purposes of establishing his damages from the instant unauthorized publication.
One of the settlement agreements arose out of an action filed by O'Hearn in federal court in Tennessee arising out of the unauthorized use of his image in certain advertisements for Universal Gym in Tennessee (the Tennessee settlement). The offending newspaper ad ran twice in two months. The settlement amount in that case was $ 75,000, or $ 37,500 per month for the two months that the ad ran.
In addition, O'Hearn testified that shortly before trial, he obtained a settlement in Florida for the unauthorized use of his image by Beyond Fitness, a vitamin store (the Florida settlement). Said matter similarly settled for $ 37,500 for one [*7] month's unauthorized use.
Based on these settlement amounts, O'Hearn opined that the value of the unauthorized use of his image in the instant case was $ 37,500 for each month the ad ran in the Bonus Saver.
In addition to these settlement amounts, O'Hearn testified to his earnings from cover shots, endorsements and the like. For cover shots, sometimes he received nothing, sometime $ 300 or $ 500. For guest appearances, he received between $ 2,000 and $ 4,000. For romance novels, he earned about $ 5,000, not on a per-book basis. He also received perquisites, such as a year's clothing from the Ironman clothing line for him and his wife, and a suntan bed for endorsing Suntan Industries' product.
His most lucrative work was product endorsements. For example, he had an endorsement contract with Envision Marketing Group for endorsing nutritional supplements, for which he received $ 12,000 per month for seven months. Another endorsement contract, which ran between April 1997 and August 1998, paid him an average of $ 19,760 per month, based on $ 6,000 per month plus two percent of Bodyonics' limited gross sales.
The jury returned a general verdict, awarding O'Hearn $ 144,000 as compensation [*8] for the use of his photo. After deducting the $ 29,500 O'Hearn received in the good faith settlement with Direct Marketing and Gardner, the trial court entered judgment in favor of O'Hearn and against Hillcrest and Audubon for $ 114,500."