In an earlier blog post we reported that top fashion model Ginta Lapina was taking the unusual step of issuing a suit against Schwarzkopf and her agency Women Management in relation to allegations that the two entities mislead her into doing a photo shoot, improperly paid her and used her images without consent.
You will also recall that Lapina had only last year signed an exclusive management deal with Women Management, which would take their relationship through to some time in 2015.
Well unsurprisingly, when one is suing their agency, Lapina has jumped ship and is now represented by DNA Model Management. Although DNA’s lawyer has stated in the New York Daily News that “any relationship between Miss Lapina and Women Management was over before she contacted DNA and discussed representation.”
Women Management has immediately hit Lapina with its own suit alleging that she fabricated the issues in relation to Schwarkzkopf as an excuse to break her contract. We say “big call” by Women Managment but let us continue…
Our leggy Latvian is now being sued by Women Management who claim that they made her a star and her repayment is a defection to a new agency. The New York Daily News has reported that Women Management is claiming that the 25 year old is only where she is today in the modelling game because of the work that her agency has put in over the last 6 years to promote her and build her career.
One would assume that Lapina may also have something to do with where she is today considering that she came to New York in 2005 as a 16 year old, signed to an agency that was not Women Management, and worked for some 3 years prior to signing up to her former agency in 2008.
But it seems that this has gone unnoticed by Women Management who has taken its legal business to the Manhattan Supreme Court, (Lapinta’s suit sits in the Federal Court) where it is claimed that “Lapina and DNA maliciously acted in bad faith to manufacture a false pretext for Lapina to breach” her contract by having her file the federal lawsuit. Being in the litigation game for some time I can tell you that there are easier ways to break a contract than issuing proceedings in a superior court…but I digress.
Women Management want Lapina to serve out the remaining 16 months of her contract and in effect appear to be seeking orders for specific performance. Generally speaking Courts are reluctant to force parties to remain in a contractual relationship if the matter can be settled with the provision of adequate damages so in my opinion Women is on a losing streak with the specific performance order but all will be revealed as we move forward on this one.
Unsurprisingly, the allegations have been denied by DNA.
Interestingly, it has been reported in the New York Daily News that in Women’s court papers it claims that “Lapina is a unique and irreplaceable talent.” Strategically this may just be a faux pais on Women’s behalf. Let’s take a moment to think laterally here. If Lapina is successful against Women Management and/or Schwarzkopf she will also have to prove her damages. It could not hurt her at all that Women is claiming that she is such a unique and irreplaceable talent. If anything one would think that this would assist her claim that Schwarzkopf is not a product that a “unique and irreplaceable talent” would promote for a paltry payment, by super model standards, of $19,700. But hey, that’s just common sense talking here.
Women may also be stepping into dangerous territory with this one insofar as they appear to be trying to make an example out of Lapina. It has been reported in New York Daily News that Women claims in its Court documents that “it will suffer “irreparable” financial harm “if top models such as Lapina are permitted to freely breach their fixed term contracts.”
This kind of strategic play has never turned out well for anyone.
First, notwithstanding what the ‘black letter’ law says a Judge is unlikely to take great pity on an agency that turns over millions a year on the back of young girls most of whom do not have legal representation when entering into contracts and many of whom that have English as a second language. Arguably, Women Management got its 6 years worth and we should all move on maybe with some compensation payable by Lapina’s new agency. Second, the sisters (and brothers) in the modelling world are unlikely to see this as a vote of confidence in their own agencies. The mentality of “if it can happen to Ginta it can happen to me” is likely to creep in faster than you can say Kale and Goji Berries and models will start dotting their “I’s” and crossing their “t’s” with greater vigilance when dealing with their agencies and clients.
All we can say is watch this space as this saga is unlikely to go away quietly.