Patti Blagojevich files lawsuit against 101.1 FM - New York News

Patti Blagojevich files lawsuit against 101.1 FM

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

After his arrest and during his two corruption trials, Rod Blagojevich's face was displayed in newspapers and on television screens all around the world. But now, a lawsuit filed by Patti Blagojevich claims that one Chicago radio station went too far in the use of her husband's photo.

Last march, Rod Blagojevich reported to a federal prison outside of Denver to begin a 14 year sentence for attempting to profit from the sale of a U.S. Senate seat.

Two months later, Merlin Media, the owners of fm 101.1 displayed billboards which Patti claims enabled the radio station to illegally profit from her husband's notoriety.

Christopher Niro represents Illinois' former first lady and is currently Blagojevich's attorney.

"Any Illinois citizen is entitled to be compensated for the use of their name, image or likeness for commercial purposes by a third party for commercial gain," says Niro.

The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $30,000. It quotes a radio station spokesman saying "the billboards had their desired effect because FM 101's ratings were up."

"If Merlin wanted to use Mr. Blagojevich's image on their advertising campaign, they could have called him and they could have gotten a license, and then we wouldn't even be sitting here today," Niro says.

Steve Mandell represents the radio station. He says the billboards were meant to inspire public debate about the Blagojevich case, and even if ratings went up, they're not a commercial use of Blagojevich's image.

"It's speech about a governor, an elected public official in the wake of his conviction for serious crimes," Mandell says. "To suggest that people can't talk about him, use his name, criticize him, applaud him in a public forum, without paying him, I mean that sort of strikes me as wrong."

Steve Mandell, who's defending the radio station in this case, has also done some legal work for FOX 32 News in recent years.

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