The St. Louis Business Journal reports that a Missouri appeals court this morning upheld the $15 million jury verdict in ex-hockey player Tony Twist’s lawsuit against Todd McFarlane.
Twist had sued McFarlane and Todd McFarlane Productions for naming a mob boss in Spawn Antonio “Tony Twist” Twistelli, claiming they profited from using his name without his permission. Twist initially was awarded $24.5 million in 2000 by a St. Louis Circuit Court jury, but the judge overruled the decision.
In 2002, an appeals court ruled in McFarlane’s favor on First Amendment grounds. However, in July 2003 the Missouri Supreme Court ordered a new trial, claiming the use of Twist’s name was “predominantly a ploy to sell comic books and related products rather than an artistic or literary expression.”
McFarlane appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in January 2004 it rejected that appeal without comment.
Today’s decision stems from that new trial, which ended in a July 2004 verdict that McFarlane and his company had infringed on Twist’s right of publicity. He was awarded $15 million.
Related: Missouri Court of Appeals opinion
More coverage: St. Louis Post-Dispatch article