Stan Lee sues entertainment company

LOS ANGELES • Unlike the characters like Black Panther and Spider-Man that he co-created, Stan Lee (above) said he is no superhero himself.

The entertainment icon contends that two business partners took advantage of him at a time when he was despondent over the death of his wife Joan and suffering from macular degeneration, a condition affecting the eyes.

The 95-year-old said he was duped into signing an agreement that gave entertainment company Pow!, which he co-founded, exclusive rights to his name, identity and likeness.

Now, Lee is suing Pow! for damages topping US$1 billion (S$1.34 billion), according to court documents filed on Tuesday. The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that Pow! chief executive Shane Duffy and co-founder Gill Champion failed to fully disclose to Lee details of the firm's 2017 sale to Camsing International.

According to the lawsuit, Lee was unable to read the document due to his eye condition. He does not remember anyone reading it to him, suggesting that his signature may have been forged or copied.

"In addition, Pow! took control of Lee's personal social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, thereby impersonating Lee before a combined 15 million followers worldwide," the complaint reads.

Lee was himself accused last month of sexual battery and battery after he was sued by massage therapist Maria Carballo. She accuses him of inappropriate touching and misconduct during two sessions last year in Chicago.

In January, the Daily Mail reported on allegations of sexual assault and harassment by nurses who cared for Lee at his Los Angeles home.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2018, with the headline 'Stan Lee sues entertainment company'. Print Edition | Subscribe