In its complaint, which was obtained by the Hollywood Reporter, Viacom details how it spent millions of dollars after “Road to Redemption” showed the body of Joseph Williams during the show’s premiere episode, titled “You Are Responsible for Your Own Actions.”
“Road to Redemption” centers around T.I. (born Clifford Joseph Harris Jr.) as he awaited sentencing on weapons possession charges and spent time counseling youth against a life of crime. The premiere episode featured the rapper visiting the funeral home where he saw the body of Williams, who was labeled a “hustler” whose parents don’t know how he died.
Williams’s family ultimately sued amid claims of invasion of privacy and negligent misrepresentations about the decedent. Despite Williams’ face reportedly being out of focus, the Hollywood Reporter mentioned additional claims brought on by the suit include violation of likeness as well as interference with the family’s contract with the funeral home. The funeral home reportedly paid to have the body cremated, the publication added.
Although things would’ve died down eventually, Viacom’s lawsuit against AXIS brought new life in to the situation as reports of the communications giant discovered an opportunity to settle the case “for an amount that, even after deducting from the $5 million policy limit the extensive defense costs incurred during more than three years of litigation, was within the $5 million policy limit of the Insurance Policy.” The realization came after mediation June 29
Verizon’s complaint stated that AXIS believes it owes up to $3 million. The “occurrence” surrounding Williams’ dead body, the insurer argues, is that the broadcast of the body is a single occurrence. Viacom counters, saying, “the Decedent’s Family alleged numerous separate acts, and thus numerous ‘Occurrences,’ that caused distinct losses.”
While the insurance policy has a $5 million limit, it also had a limitation of $3 million for “Each Loss.” In the policy, this is defined “all Damages and Claim Expense arising out of an Occurrence.”
As it stands now, Viacom is seeking between $3 million to $5 million as well as punitive damages in its lawsuit from AXIS, lest it “be forced to pay from [its] own pockets the costs of defense and settlement.”