Woman suing Chipotle for more than $2 billion over use of photo

DENVER -- A California woman is suing Chipotle for more than $2.2 billion for using a photo of her that she alleges the company never had permission to use.

The lawsuit, filed by Leah Caldwell of Sacramento, names Denver-based Chipotle, CEO Steve Ells and photographer Steve Adams as defendants.

Caldwell claims Adams took a photo of her sitting in a Chipotle restaurant in Denver sometime in the late summer or early fall of 2006 without her knowledge. The complaint states Adams asked Caldwell to sign a release form as she exited the restaurant, but Caldwell refused.

Caldwell claims she later spotted the photo in promotional materials at a Chipotle restaurant in Dec. 2014 in Orlando and again in March 2015 in two different Sacramento-area locations.

According to the complaint, the photo had been edited to show alcoholic beverages on the table in front of Caldwell.

Caldwell’s suit claims Chipotle bought the photo from Adams, but didn’t take any measures to confirm that Adams had received proper consent to use the photo.

Caldwell is seeking $2,237,633,000, which the complaint says is the company’s profits made from the use of the photo between 2006 and 2015. The suit calls for 2016’s profits to be added to that amount once that information is made available.

A Chipotle spokesman told Denver7 the company doesn't comment on pending legal action as a matter of policy.

The case was originally filed in U.S. District Court in California but has been transferred to the U.S. District Court in Colorado.

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