CARLSBAD (CNS) - A Los Angeles judge heard arguments but did not immediately decide today whether a lawsuit filed by basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, alleging that a trading card company misused his image, should be transferred to San Diego County.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Zaven V. Sinanian took the case under submission and said he would have a decision soon.
The former Los Angeles Lakers center filed the lawsuit on Aug. 30 against The Upper Deck Inc., based in Carlsbad. He alleges the company used his image from his UCLA playing days on a trading card without his permission.
Upper Deck Chief Executive Officer Richard McWilliam also is named.
Attorneys for Upper Deck subsequently moved to transfer the case from Los Angeles County.
They said the card was made in San Diego County, the company is based there and that it would be more convenient for the witnesses to appear in a courtroom in that area.
They also maintain Abdul-Jabbar would have an advantage getting a favorable jury picked in Los Angeles.
"This is such a media- and celebrity-intensive county that I really feel from the get-go that we could not get a fair trial," Upper Deck attorney Brittany Hysni told the judge.
However, Sinanian, who asked several questions of lawyers on both sides, said he was skeptical of that argument.
"I assume Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is known throughout the United States," Sinanian said.
The Hall of Fame player's attorney, Todd S. Eagan, said the rules concerning whether a case should be filed are more liberal when corporations are sued as opposed to just individuals. He also said the card at issue in the case was distributed throughout the world, including Los Angeles County.
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