Here is the latest reminder that those who want to be on a reality competition show need to know what they’re getting into. A woman referred to as Jane Doe is suing the production company behind America’s Got Talent, claiming that her young daughter was traumatized when host Tyra Banks “physically manipulated and verbally abused” the girl.
According to the 18-page suit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), it seems that the adult plaintiff and her husband were “publicly humiliated” by the AGT judges and some audience members during a March 19 performance. The duo were performing a song they wrote about motherhood that celebrated the young girl’s birth and “bond among the members of her family.” It says the song is “especially favored” by the girl — ID’d as Mary Doe in the filing — among her parents’ works.
But apparently Banks, the judges and some in the crowd were unmoved. The suit claims that during the performance, Banks, “an individual acting as an agent of Defendants, physically manipulated and verbally abused Mary. Banks shook Mary’s shoulder, pulled Mary’s hair back and physically manipulated Mary. … Mary did not stop Banks’ conduct because Mary was fearful. Banks also insinuated that Mary was accidentally conceived, made fun of the performance and ridiculed [the song] in front of Mary, all in front of active cameras that were filming Mary. After the performance, Banks asked Mary to describe, in front of active and filming cameras, her opinion about Jane and her husband after they were publicly ridiculed by AGT. … As a result of her negative experience from AGT and Defendants’ abusive treatment, Mary was traumatized and became deeply depressed.”
The suit adds that, a few weeks later, the plaintiffs asked that AGT not televise or publish any footage of their performance and the child’s reaction. It claims that Marathon execs agreed not to feature Mary as part of the program and “acknowledged Mary’s emotional distress.” But the plaintiffs also wanted the song’s performance kept off the air, for fear of causing “further emotional distress.” The lawsuit says AGT “maintained that they will exploit all footages of Jane and her husband and that they will not air those footages in their entirety.”
Seeking a jury trial, the suit claims intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress along with civil battery and civil assault. The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Elizabeth Yang and Natalie Schneider of the Law & Mediation offices of Elizabeth Yang in Monterey Park, CA.