Fiji Water has countersued Fiji Water Girl, accusing the model – real name Kelleth Steinbach (professionally Kelleth Cuthbert) – and her team of “simple greed”.
In their cross-complaint, obtained in its entirety by Buzzfeed News, Fiji Water says Steinbach has “bitten the hand that feeds her by suing the very company that is entirely responsible for providing her the opportunity and the means to capitalise on her fleeting 15 minutes of fame.”
Steinbach went viral after she photobombed a bunch of celebrity red carpet pics at the 76th Golden Globe Awards. She has gone on to appear on talk shows, is a guest reporter for the Inside Edition and is set to appear on The Bold and the Beautiful in a guest role.
Last week, Steinbach sued Fiji Water after they allegedly created a marketing campaign based off their Golden Globes stunt without her consent. The campaign used Steinbach’s image on cardboard cutouts.
According to documents, via The Blast, Steinbach claims Fiji Water attempted to negotiate an agreement with Steinbach’s agent so the cardboard cutouts could be distributed across the country but on the following day, the model’s team was contacted by someone who had already spotted the cardboard cutout on display.
In Fiji Water’s cross-complaint, they accuse Steinbach of going back on her agreement between herself and Fiji to serve as their Brand Ambassador which would allow the water company to use her likeness in its related advertising campaign.
The document alleges Steinbach attempted to “extort close to half a million dollars from FIJI because she wanted a better deal than the original $90,000 she had originally accepted in exchange for such rights.”
“FIJI refused to pay this steep ransom and instead insisted upon its contractual rights.”
In Steinbach’s lawsuit, the model also claims Fiji had pressured her into the “fake signing of a fake document to stimulate Steinbach into signing on as Fiji Water Ambassador”. Fiji dismissed this claim in their suit, saying the signing – captured on videotape and in photographs, was in fact real.
Fiji’s suit also involved a number of screenshots, one of which showed Steinbach “approving” the cardboard cutouts on her Instagram story.
On social media, Steinbach called her decision to sue Fiji Water a “last resort” as she “had hoped to discretely resolve the dispute.”
Source: Buzzfeed News
— Kelleth Cuthbert (@kellethcuthbert) February 1, 2019
Image: Getty Images / Stefanie Keenan