Fiji Water Girl Kelleth Cuthbert Sued By Fiji Water, Says Her Claims Are All Wet

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Fiji Water Company has filed a cross complaint against actress Kelleth Cuthbert (real name Kelly Steinbach), aka the Fiji Water Girl, in a contractual dispute over marketing rights on her image.

Cuthbert, whose photobombing on the Golden Globes red carpet became an Internet sensation, previously filed suit against the brand, claiming they were using her image for marketing without authorization.

In the Fiji cross complaint filed Jan. 31, Fiji accused Cuthbert and her agents of “simple greed” in attempting to circumvent an agreement that she would serve as a brand ambassador and have her likeness used in advertising. Fiji claims the agreed-upon amount was $90,000, but Cuthbert sought $500k. “Fiji refused to pay this steep ransom,” the company said in court papers.

Cuthbert became instantly iconic at the Globes. Dressed in blue, she positioned herself on the Globes red carpet so that she appeared in many red carpet shots holding a tray of water. Her coy smile captivated the online community and she became a meme sensation, Photoshopped into many unlikely situations.

Cuthbert named Fiji Water Company and The Wonderful Company in her earlier complaint, claiming a cardboard cutout marketing campaign was created the day after the Golden Globes using her image without authorization. The companies contacted her agent, but a cardboard cutout had already appeared in a Bristol Farms store in West Hollywood.

The Cuthbert legal papers contend Fiji attempted to entice Cuthbert with gifts to give away her rights. then turned up the heat and “pressured Steinbach into video recording a fake signing of a fake document to simulate Steinbach signing on as a Fiji Water Ambassador.”

The Fiji suit also mentions the video, instead claiming it represents proof of her assent to becoming an ambassador. It also mentioned a KTLA appearance wherein Cuthbert said she was becoming a brand ambassador for the bottled water.

Cuthbert’s lawyer, Kecia Reynolds of Pillsbury called the cross complaint “an obvious publicity stunt to counter revelations of Fiji Water’s unlawful actions.” She denied that there was an agreement.

“Suing Fiji Water was a last resort for Ms. Cuthbert, who had hoped to discretely resolve this dispute.  Fiji Water used her image without a contract, without consent, and without paying her, all for Fiji Water’s financial gain. Models make a living off the use of their image.  No one would expect other professions to work for free. Fiji Water’s cardboard cutout campaign used Ms. Cuthbert’s image unlawfully and she just wants what is fair.”

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