The record label representing the rapper referred to as "Game" fka "The Game," aka Jayceon Taylor, and Game himself, won the right to have a retrial on the matter of punitive damages arising out of a defamation case on behalf of five North Carolina police officers.
According to the documents, Taylor was recording a music video at a local mall, and after being ordered to cease filming, Greensboro police officers were called in to take control of the situation. The officers arrested Taylor at the Four Seasons Mall, and charged him with criminal trespass, communicating threats, and disorderly conduct. During the arrest, a member of Taylor's entourage continued recording the events with a video camera. The video was then heavily edited, to make it appear as thought Taylor was wrongfully arrested, and was then included as a bonus feature on Taylor's documentary DVD entitled "Stop Snitchin' Stop Lyin'." The record label was involved in the production and marketing of the DVD.
As a result of the DVD, the officers testified at trial that they encountered difficulties on the job, due to being recognized, and also feared for their own safety, including that of their families. The issue of liability was actually determined on the basis of a summary judgment motion, but the court heard testimony during the damages portion. On the basis of the evidence presented at the damages trial, the plaintiffs were each granted $1 million in compensatory damages, and $2 million in punitive damages, for a total of $15 million.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the judgment of the lower court, but stated that in terms of the damages award:
However, the trial court erred by considering only evidence of Bungalo’s co-defendants’ profits and ability to pay when determining the amount of punitive damages owed by Bungalo. As a result, the portion of the trial court’s judgment which awarded punitive damages against Bungalo is vacated and the case is remanded for a new trial solely on that issue.
In fact, "Taylor admitted that the DVD was edited to give the impression that he did nothing wrong during the arrest, in an attempt to defame plaintiffs," the opinion stated. Additionally, statements made to the media, and the text printed on the back of the DVD proliferate the alleged defamation.
Game's 2004 album "The Documentary" included the Grammy nominated song Hate It or Love It.
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