Meme Sparks $18 Million Lawsuit

This photo of Adam Holland, a man with Down syndrome, spawned a derogatory Internet meme. (Photo via WSMV-TV)

The family of a Tennessee man with Down syndrome has filed an $18 million lawsuit after discovering that a picture of their son became an Internet meme.

Pamela and Bernard Holland filed a lawsuit against a Florida-based radio station, a Minnesota resident and the company behind an online sign generator after discovering that “The Cowhead Show” on WHPT-FM posted a photograph of their son, Adam holding a sign which was altered to read “Retarded News.”

The family says that the radio station was not authorized to use Adam’s photo.

The original picture was taken in 2004 and shows Holland and a picture he drew during an art class at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

The Hollands’ attorney, Larry Crain, said that the family also found the picture of their son repeatedly altered on different websites with defamatory messages.

“It was devastating for this family, emotionally,” Crain told Nashville’s WSMV-TV. “He’s a very likable, very presentable young man who I don’t think fully appreciates the hurt that’s been inflicted on him.”

Crain hopes that the lawsuit will help others in the future saying, “We hope that it will change the law, make it tougher, put more penalties in place for those who use unauthorized images of other people.”


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