CHIMAYO, N.M., Jan. 6 (UPI) -- A New Mexico woman's lawsuit against a novelty product maker alleges she was defamed when her high school picture was used on a flask with a joke about "rehab."
Veronica Vigil's lawsuit, which was filed in state District Court late last year and has now been moved to federal court, alleges the Chimayo woman's 1970 high school graduation picture was used without her permission by Anne Taintor Inc. to decorate a flask with the caption, "I'm going to be the most popular girl in rehab."
The lawsuit, which also names Santa Fe gift shop Doodlet's as a defendant, alleges the product defames Vigil by linking her image to substance abuse.
"Plaintiff is an active member of her church and does not consume alcohol or drugs," the lawsuit states. "Given the seriousness of the issues of substance abuse in the community in which plaintiff resides, she has held herself out by reputation for her children and her community, to refrain from abuse or even use of alcohol and illicit drugs and has set an example that the issue is a very serious one that destroys families and lives."
Blair Dunn, Vigil's lawyer, said the flask was spotted by the plaintiff's adult daughter at a store in Florida. The product was not available on Taintor's website Tuesday, but was listed on Amazon along with other products bearing the same image.
Dunn said Doodlet's was named in the lawsuit because it is believed to have sold cards and magnets bearing the same image of Vigil with the "rehab" caption.
The complaint alleges the Taintor products have led members of the public to conclude Vigil "either has a problem with drugs and alcohol personally, or she condones the use of her image to make light of an important social issue that affects her community." The suit says the misconception has caused Vigil to be "held up to scorn and contempt."
Taintor's attorney said in a court filing that "sometime prior to 2010; Anne Taintor, Inc. purchased the Plaintiff's high school graduation photograph, which was for sale."
The filing does not say where or how the photo was purchased.
A lawyer for Taintor declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.
The suit alleges defamation, invasion of privacy and unfair trade practices. It is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.