DOCUMENT: Evidence

Antiwar T-Shirt Lawsuit

Parents sue over use of dead soldier son's name on garment

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Antiwar T-Shirt Lawsuit

APRIL 23--The parents of a 21-year-old soldier killed in Iraq are suing an online retailer for including their son's name on antiwar t-shirts that list the names of thousands of military personnel killed in the war. In a $10 million federal lawsuit, Michael and Robin Read allege that the manufacturer of the shirts is using their son Brandon's name in a commercial venture without their permission.

The Reads's complaint, a copy of which you'll find here, was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, Tennessee; it names Dan Frazier and his firm Lifeweaver, LLC as defendants. While the lawsuit makes mention of Frazier's free speech right, the Reads contend that protection ended when the Arizona businessman used Brandon's name 'for profit.' Frazier's sale of the t-shirts--which include the names of fallen soldiers in the background of bold messages like 'Bush Lied/They Died'--has caused the Reads emotional distress, according to the lawsuit.

Last year, when the Reads learned that Brandon's name was included on Frazier's shirts, the Tennessee couple's lawyer sent Frazier a letter demanding that the late serviceman's name be removed from the $20 garments. Brandon, a sergeant attached to the 125th Transportation Company, was killed by an improvised explosive device in September 2004.

Frazier's sale of the shirts has drawn criticism from public officials, and his site advertises the items as 'illegal in five states.' Last year, Arizona passed a law barring the use of a soldier's name on any item offered for sale (without the permission of the soldier or his/her legal representative). But in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, a federal judge last September issued a preliminary injunction halting the enforcement of the new law. (8 pages)