“Borat” Survives Alabama Supreme Court

Posted on February 13, 2008


We are pleased at Red Mountain Law to have the opportunity to blog about Borat. It came as no surprise to me that on January 19 the Alabama Supreme Court sided with Borat star Sasha Cohen and said etiquette teacher Kathie Martin could not sue Cohen or the companies that produced the movie in Alabama because she signed an agreement stating only courts in New York could hear disputes that arose from her appearance. In recent history our supreme court has become known for its strict interpretation of contracts.

In the movie, Cohen plays a journalist from Kazakhstan traveling across the United States in search of Pamela Anderson. He gives out random high fives and says "Very nice!" all along the way, misunderstanding American culture at every stop. During a segment in Alabama, Borat sought etiquette lessons from Martin and is shown in the movie presenting guests at a dinner party with a bag of, well, you’ve seen the movie.

The Supreme Court was polite enough not to go into details of the dinner: "It is sufficient to say that an eventful meal ensued during which the alleged reporter engaged in behavior that would generally be considered boorish and offensive," wrote Justice Mike Bolin.

Martin sued Cohen, Twentieth Century, One America Productions Inc., Everyman Pictures, Dune Entertainment, MTV Networks, Comedy Central, Dakota North Entertainment Inc. and Four by Two Production Co., claiming she was embarrassed and humiliated by her encounter with Borat.

Brice Johnston, Goodrich Law Firm, LLC