Leno Wins Court Appeal Over Photo Joke
American talk show host JAY LENO has won a New York state appeals court ruling that a lower court should have dismissed a lawsuit brought against him by a woman he ridiculed live on-air. CLAIRE WALTER claimed in legal papers that Leno violated her civil rights when he mocked an "unflattering" photograph of her in 2003. The picture was originally taken for use by her former employer Dorschel Automotive Group. The lawsuit stated that Leno told his audience, "A customer would not want to have their car serviced by someone like Ms Walter. There were comments about (the) plaintiff being scary looking, being big." The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court ruled last week (ends24MAR06) that an exception should be made to the civil rights law regarding comedy. Walter's lawyer NIRA KERMISCH is bitterly disappointed by the verdict: "Just because you're a comic doesn't give you the right to take someone who is an obscure person and make fun of the way someone looks."