Playboy Playmate Dani Mathers’ Snapchat indiscretion could end up costing her big-time, if the subject of the body-shaming post she published earlier this month decides to file suit.
Mathers — who took a photo of an unwitting nude woman at her gym and posted it on Snapchat with the caption, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either” — has already lost her gig with Los Angeles radio station KLOS over the post, and the Los Angeles Police Department has opened a criminal investigation into the matter. But Devin McRae, an entertainment litigator with Early, Sullivan, Wright, Gizer & McRae, told TheWrap that a civil suit could yield significant damages.
“It could go into the seven figures, it would seem,” McRae said.
“I think the victim would have a very solid case,” McRae continued, noting that the woman could sue on a number of counts.
In addition to well-established claims of invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, McRae said, the woman in the photo could also benefit from a newer “revenge porn” statute that was introduced to the California civil code in July 2015.
That statute forbids, in part, the intentional distribution of an image of a person without that person’s consent, if the distributor of the image knew that the subject had a “reasonable expectation that the material would remain private,” and if the image “exposes an intimate body part of the other person.”
That would seem to be a reasonable approximation of what occurred in this case, though McRae did see some wiggle room for Mathers, should a lawsuit be filed.
The statute defines “intimate body part” as “any portion of the genitals, and, in the case of a female, also includes any portion of the breast below the top of the areola, that’s uncovered or visible through less than fully opaque clothing.”
The woman depicted in Mathers’ post was shot from the side, and media outlets that have reproduced the image have censored it to various degrees, making it unclear if a body part described in the statute was captured in the image, or if the exposure was limited to the woman’s buttocks.
“On the other hand, one could argue, ‘No, this was clearly an intimate body part,'” McRae offered.
Mathers’ attorney has not responded to TheWrap’s request for comment on this story.
The Los Angeles Police Department told TheWrap on Monday that a victim had not yet come forward in the criminal case. And one could understand why a person who’d had a nude picture of herself spread across social media would prefer to avoid the further exposure of a high-profile trial. However, McRae noted, the “revenge porn” statute specifies that an alleged victim can file suit under a pseudonym such as John Doe or Jane Doe.
The amount of the damages would largely depend on the extent of negative impact that the woman could prove she suffered — if, say, she had to seek psychiatric counseling as a result of the incident, or had been unable to work. Loss of reputation, shame, mortification and hurt feelings could also help tip the damages scale, McRae said.
“You would look at any sort of adverse impacts that have occurred as a result of this,” McRae said.
After Mathers initially published the photo, she was savaged on social media as a classic example of being pretty on the outside, but ugly on the inside, with a thick streak of cruelty throughout. That perception could well carry into any potential trial as well.
“It would be a hard case for this Playmate to defend, because she’s not going to get any real sympathy,” McRae said.