Michael Trigg, an avid philanthropist, contributed $100,000 to the for-profit web-based purveyor of charity auctions, Charitybuzz.com, in exchange for “A few lines (speaking part) in a major motion picture or popular television show.” The horror parody film Scary Movie 5 was selected, and the experience was to include a private 20-minute meeting with Harvey Weinstein, co-CEO of The Weinstein Company. Trigg filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment, among other claims, naming as defendants Charitybuzz, The Weinstein Company (Charitybuzz’s partner in the transaction) and the La Jolla Playhouse (the non-profit organization designated as the beneficiary of the net-proceeds of the donation). In September of 2012, Trigg responded to Charitybuzz’s “Do Good, Dream Big” program designed purportedly to fulfill the “dream” experience of buyers/donors in exchange for a financial charity donation. According to the lawsuit, Charitybuzz acted as the agent for The Weinstein Company, the donor of the movie part, and the La Jolla Playhouse, the charity receiving the funds, for a 20 percent fee. Unfortunately, Trigg’s “few lines” speaking part was marginalized to two words and a nod. Despite repeated promises of The Weinstein Company and Charitybuzz that they would uphold their end of the bargain, when Trigg arrived on set the film’s director told him to just nod (without a line) at the detective character in the scene. The director was then advised (upon Trigg’s prompting) that there was supposed to be at least a full sentence spoken line. He ultimately allowed a two-word phrase: “Hey, Detective.” As Trigg described it, “I don’t understand why the director had no knowledge of my agreement with The Weinstein Company and Charitybuzz; the experience was embarrassing and unprofessional.” Adding insult to injury, Trigg paid for his flight and accommodations for the initial film shoot out of his own pocket, only to be told the filming schedule had changed. He was forced to cancel the trip at significant cost to himself. He never received reimbursement for the canceled trip, as he was also promised. Trigg, who is the founder of Trigg Laboratories, makers of Wet® personal lubricant products, has a long history of philanthropy. Since its founding in 1989, his company has donated over $1 million (in cash and products) to over 300 non-profit organizations. “Charitybuzz misrepresented their ‘Do Good, Dream Big’ program and failed to disclose in advance, among other things, that my part could be reduced to almost nothing or even cut from the film altogether,” Trigg explained. “If I had been informed of all the facts before I gave the money, I would not have made such a sizeable donation under those circumstances.” “As a business owner, I understand truth in advertising and providing products and services as promised. I’m disappointed that Charitybuzz and The Weinstein Company haven’t upheld these simple good faith business practices.” “The entire fiasco reminds me of the Peanut’s cartoon in which Lucy promises to hold the football for Charlie Brown to kick but pulls it away at the last second—causing Charlie Brown to land on his behind. In real life we call that ‘bait and switch,’ which isn’t funny—it’s just plain unethical.” Trigg’s attorney, Daniel Kolodziej of Trygstad Schwab & Trygstad, contacted the attorney for Charitybuzz and The Weinstein Company to attempt a reasonable resolution, to no avail. Trigg also notified La Jolla Playhouse of the problem with the donation, but was told – in effect – that it was not La Jolla Playhouse’s problem that it received tainted money. Following this and other unsuccessful attempts to resolve the problem with CharityBuzz, The Weinstein Company, and La Jolla Playhouse, Trigg had no alternative but to take legal recourse. A complaint was filed on June 30, 2014 with the LA Superior Court, Case No. BC550257. More information about Michael Trigg, including celebrity photos, go to: michaeltrigg.org.
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