Kanye West and his Yeezy brand have been ordered to pay over $300,000 to Brooklyn-based creative Katelyn Mooney. This decision came after they failed to appear in court for a lawsuit filed by Mooney, who claimed she was owed money for her work on a photoshoot featuring West and his new line of SHDZ sunglasses.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Gerald Lebovits issued a default judgment in Mooney‘s favor, as no lawyer for West or Yeezy was entered on the docket for the fashion line, and they never responded to the court papers. The amount awarded includes around $95,000 in actual damages and approximately $205,000 in statutory damages.
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Mooney, an established creative director in the fashion industry, was hired by West on September 11, 2022, as an independent contractor to produce a shoot for Yeezy’s new line of SHDZ sunglasses. The agreed payment for her services was $110,000. However, Mooney alleged that she was only paid $15,000 of the agreed amount, despite having agreed to the amount in text messages with Yeezy employees and sending invoices.
As a freelancer and mother of three, Mooney faced financial hardship due to Yeezy’s failure to pay her the full amount. She had to take out loans and max out her credit cards to cover rent and other bills. Her lawsuit sought an award of “no less than” $110,000 for her original freelance production services, an additional $110,000 for Yeezy’s failure to pay and breach of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act (FIFA), plus $95,000 for “breach of contract” and “unjust enrichment.”
Judge Lebovits issued a default ruling against West’s brand, finding Yeezy responsible for the claims, after no lawyer was entered on the docket for the fashion line, and it never responded to court papers. This ruling serves as a reminder of the importance of fair treatment and timely payment for freelancers in the creative industry.