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Judge dismisses claims filed against actor Marlon Wayans

Claims involving racial harassment and emotional distress were filed against Marlon Wayans. (Thinkstock)
Claims involving racial harassment and emotional distress were filed against Marlon Wayans. (Thinkstock)

A judge dismissed racial harassment and emotional distress claims filed against “A Haunted House 2” star Marlon Wayans, saying an extra for the movie had not met the legal standards for the case to go forward.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rafael Ongkeko issued his ruling Dec. 31 — 20 days after taking the lawsuit under submission.

Plaintiff Pierre Daniel alleged in a suit filed Aug. 25 that Wayans subjected him to offensive language about his race and unfavorably compared him to an animated character. Both are black.

Wayans’ lawyers argued the claims against their client should be dismissed, because they infringed on his right to free speech.

Daniel’s case will proceed against other parties he sued, including producer IM Global Octane.

According to the lawsuit, in September 2013 Wayans tweeted photos of Daniel and Cleveland Brown, an animated character from the television show “Family Guy” and its spinoff “The Cleveland Show.”

Daniel alleged Wayans used a caption that said the plaintiff resembled the character. He also maintained the actor made fun of his hair, mustache and weight.

Wayans’ attorneys, William Briggs and Celeste Brecht, argued that the part of the case against the actor/comedian should be tossed because his actions — which included the use of the “N” word and a slang variation of it — were done as part of making and promoting “A Haunted House 2.”

But Daniel’s lawyer, Tessa King, said Wayans posted the photos of her client on the actor’s website and on his Twitter account for commercial reasons.

King said Wayans did not have Daniel’s permission to take his photograph. Many of the disparaging remarks Wayans made to Daniel occurred during breaks in filming, King said.

King said the statements allegedly made to Daniel during filming breaks were not protected speech, because there is no public interest in offensive remarks that have nothing to do with the creative process.

However, Briggs said Wayans used the “N” word “in the comedic sense, not the pejorative sense.” He also said Daniel signed a waiver when he became an extra and knew beforehand that he would hear things on a film set that one would normally find offensive outside such an arena.

“No one racially harassed Mr. Daniel,” Briggs said. “He voluntarily appeared on a movie set where a raunchy, R-rated comedy was being filmed.”

Briggs also said that Daniel consented to being photographed by Wayans.

In a sworn declaration, Wayans defended his use of the “N” word or “nigga.”

“I was raised in an environment where black men and women frequently used the phrases … as terms of endearment when speaking to each other,” Wayans says. “As an example, my father, siblings and friends frequently call me (“N” word) or my (“N” word) when greeting me.”

The words “are part of my lexicon … part of my creative process,” according to Wayans.

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