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‘Southland’ Slapped With $5 Million Lawsuit Over Autopsy Photo in Opening Montage

Gritty police drama used a deceased person’s image without permission, lawsuit claims

The gritty police drama “Southland” isn’t on the air anymore, but it’s just found itself in the middle of a real-life legal battle.

The canceled series has been named in a lawsuit alleging that the show’s opening montage made unauthorized use of an autopsy photo.

In the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, Hilda Abarca and Jessica Abarca, claim that the show’s montage included an image of their son/brother Andy Nelson Abarca, who was murdered in Los Angeles in 2005.

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The Abarcas claim they first became aware of the photo’s use in September 2013, and that the image “appeared to be taken in a Coroner’s laboratory.”

“At no time did Plaintiffs consent to the use of the image of the Plaintiff’s [sic] DECEASED,” the lawsuit reads.

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As a result, the relatives claim, they have suffered “anxiety, anger, hopelessness, fear and distrust of authority, physical and emotional discomfort, injury and damage, pain, apprehension, psychological trauma, loss of dignity, nightmares and loss of trust, among other injuries.”

In addition to the show, NBC — which originally aired “Southland” — TNT, which later picked it up, Warner Bros. Television, John Wells Productions, Warner Home Video and the city and county of Los Angeles are named in the lawsuit.

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Warner Bros. Television and TNT had no comment on the lawsuit when contacted by TheWrap. NBC has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Alleging misappropriation of image, invasion of common law right of privacy, unjust enrichment and other counts, the Abarcas are seeking $5 million in general damages, and an injunction barring the further commercial use of Abarca’s image.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.