Mexican fast-food restaurant chain Chipotle is being sued for $2.2 billion by a customer who claims a photo of her has been used in advertising without her consent. According to the lawsuit, photographer Steve Adams took Leah Caldwell’s photo in mid-2006 while she was dining in a Denver area Chipotle restaurant. Caldwell claims she refused to sign Adams’ release form before leaving the restaurant, but that her refusal didn't stop Chipotle from using the photo in some promotional materials.

Both Adams and Chipotle CEO Steve Ells are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Caldwell states that she became aware of the photo’s usage in Chipotle promotional materials in December 2014 in Orlando, later seeing the photo in multiple California locations in 2015. She also claims the photo was edited to include alcoholic items on the dining table.

Chipotle has declined commenting on the pending litigation, but the lawsuit alleges that Chipotle bought and used the Adams’ photo without confirming whether Caldwell has signed a release. Due to the lengthy span of time that the photo was in circulation, the lawsuit is seeking a massive $2,237,633,000, the amount that Chipotle allegedly profited from the photo.

No doubt it's a reminder to photographers everywhere that getting models to sign a release form is an absolute must. Will Chipotle end up paying over $2 billion as a result of the oversight? It seems unlikely. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source: The Denver Channel