Family of Dead Soldier Sues Tee-Shirt Seller in Class Action

A Tennessee couple, Robin and Michael Read, who lost their son in Iraq has sued an Arizona tee-shirt maker, Dan Frazier for selling anti-war tee-shirts with the names of dead soldiers (including their son). They are seeking $40 billion in damages in a class action lawsuit.

Dan Frazier of Flagstaff has triggered a series of state laws criminalizing the use of the name or image of dead soldiers for commercial purposes. As noted in this column, the laws raise serious constitutional questions under the first amendment.

Previously, a federal judge in Arizona ruled that the criminal portions of these laws violatethe First Amendment. Arizona is among several states that have enacted similar laws.

For the full story, click here.

8 thoughts on “Family of Dead Soldier Sues Tee-Shirt Seller in Class Action”

  1. I am in the service and tbh it has nothing to do with the either bush lied or not i have served for 13 years far before the war. I knew my risks going in I knew we are always at the mercy of the commander in cheif and congress. For him to put my name on that shirt if i died on a tour to iraq would piss me off to no end. Its like he is calling me an idiot for making a decision to serve. I would hope my parents would also sue the heck out of him, because his message doesnt even fit half our cases. It also shows the true colors of someone who hasnt served. The reason you go is so you can make sure your brother comes back or so someone else doesnt have to. Not because of some political agenda. (dont get me wrong there are some here due to politcs but not as many as you think). I agree he can have his free speech but he doesnt speak for those soldiers.

    Plus he gets the message wrong. Why doesn’t he fight for the living soldiers coming back to horrible health care or the living that come back so mentally injured they might as well be dead. The living casualties need his help more then the dead. Yet like most left wing activists they see the easy to see fight yet don’t dig deep enough to find the real issues. So yes the deaths of thousands of troops is tragic but we have greater tragedies happening on a daily basis.

    PS also i haven’t seen him fight at all about the soldiers coming back and committing suicides. Now if he had a shirt that had every suicide death from a military member or spouse i would definitely buy one. There the silent victims here forgotten and discarded by the military we all love.

  2. JR:

    Commercial free speech has less protections than non-commercial sppech. Note the regulation on signs and billboards, and even advertisements on TV (cigarette ads banned), but your point is well taken. It seems to me that a product produced to address political wrongs deserves more protection that your average carton of Camels.

  3. Does anyone actually think that this shouldn’t be considered protected speech:

    That sold in a newspaper for $.35 a few years ago. If that was on a tee-shirt instead of in the press, would it carry any less of a political statement? Would it deserve any less protection? Would it be any less legitimate?

    That people could answer “yes” to any or all of those disturbs me.

  4. Mespo,
    I agree with you. You either have free speech or you don’t. I have the same problem with the Defense Department not allowing pictures of caskets of returning soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. We have been losing too many of our freedoms since George W. came into office…. Dunder, I would have expected you to be in favor of capitalism at work. Besides the obvious constitutional problems with banning the shirt, what harm does it do to the family or the decedent? They are on all kinds of lists that are available to the public. Or is the underlying problem that you don’t want the public to feel the real impact of 4,000 plus soldiers being killed in Iraq over lies and manipulated intelligence.

  5. “I would SUE also if some anti-war pro-thug scoundrel invaded my family’s privacy by putting my son’s name on a t-shirt.”

    Yeah, that Freedom of Speech stuff is just a terrible thing. Either we can do away with that darned thing or you can go live in Iran where your need to curtail speech is the standard method.

    The real problem is the embarrassment of these families who jumped on the Iraq=9/11 faslehood this this lying administration and now it’s cost them. They’re embassassed for allowing themselves to be duped into believing their son or daughter was fighting for a just cause or America’s safety or that the leaders who sent their child to die actually cared about them.

    “I would think……”

    We do. One hopes you start doing it some day.

  6. rafflaw:

    I think they have a serious standing issue, since it is not their names at issue. Many states prohibit appropriation of a living person’s name or likeness for commercial purposes. But, I also think that this is in the nature of a SLAPP suit trying to drive the manufacturer out of business because of his opinions, rather than seeking bona fide compensation for wrongdoing. I suspect this class will never be certified, if it even gets to that stage. I would be concerned about sanctions and attorney’s fees if I were class plaintiff’s counsel.

    Finally, I think dunder needs counseling. He is apparently as angry as these pro-war parents, and having just about the same effect on public opinion here.

  7. GREAT NEWS! I hope they win! I would SUE also if some anti-war pro-thug scoundrel invaded my family’s privacy by putting my son’s name on a t-shirt.

    I would think all the “privacy rights” left wingers would be all on board with the lawsuit; I guess this is just another classic case of hypocrisy on the left, eh?

    I wonder where they found an attorney willing to take the case since attorneys are owing to the Democratic party that protects their checkbook in exchange for political contributions.

  8. I don’t understand how printing a t-shirt with someone’s name on it can be illegal. I can understand why the parents are upset, but aren’t the lists of the soldiers who have perished in Iraq public record? Wouldn’t the First Amendment protect this type of “speech”? I can’t imagine these state laws being upheld whether it is for criminalizing the act as Professor Turley has already discussed or for allowing the parents to sue for damages under the act. Then again, if the Bush Supremes get their hands on something like this, all bets are off.

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