A California judge has upheld Cardi B’s win at a recent trial where jurors found her not liable for using a portion of plaintiff Kevin Brophy’s back tattoo on the cover of her 2016 mixtape Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1, Rolling Stone reports.
Brophy, a model, sued Cardi for $5 million in 2017, claiming the cover of the mixtape — which depicts a man apparently performing oral sex on the rapper — misappropriated his likeness by using an image of his tattoo, and that he was suffering “distress and humiliation” because of it. Brophy asked the court to toss their October 21st, 2022 verdict, which found Cardi not liable.
U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled Wednesday that Brophy’s request to toss that ruling had come too late and lacked merit, and subsequently ordered him to pay Cardi’s legal fees. “The jury had an ample basis for its verdict,” his statement reads. “For example, the jury could have reasonably concluded that the back tattoo on the model on the mixtape cover at issue in this suit was not sufficiently identifiable with Brophy to constitute misappropriation of his likeness or depiction in a false light. Because the model’s face is not visible, identification based on facial appearance is impossible.”
Cardi had concurred that the image of the tattoo had been superimposed on the image; the man on the mixtape cover is also Black, while Brophy is white. Judge Carney’s statement continued: “Most importantly, Brophy’s tattoo played a minor role in what was a larger visual commentary on sexual politics. Brophy’s tattoo was but one tattoo on the back of the model, who was himself but one part of a suggestive portrayal of a man with his head between Cardi B’s legs while she was in the backseat of a vehicle and drank an alcoholic beverage.”
The judge added: “The purpose, Cardi B testified, was to show her in control, reversing traditional gender roles. It is hard to see how the cover’s economic value derived at all from Brophy’s tattoo. Despite any contrary evidence that Brophy presented, the jury was within reason to find that the use of the tattoo was transformative.”
This isn’t the only legal drama involving Cardi as of late: In September, she pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor assault charges stemming from an August 2018 incident at a Queens strip club. As for her music, she recently teamed up with GloRilla for the single “Tomorrow 2” and offered a remix of Rosalía’s “DESPECHÁ.”