Lady Gaga has been sued over sales of her "We Pray for Japan" wristbands by a law firm that accuses her and affiliated companies of not donating all the proceeds to relief efforts made after the deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck the country in March.
The Michigan-based legal group 1-800-LAW-FIRM says in a class action suit, filed at a federal court on Friday, June 24, and obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com, that the singer and companies involved in the charity efforts allegedly retained a portion of profits made from the sales of the $5 wristbands instead of donating all funds.
They are also accused of inflating shipping charges and reports of the donations in a bid to make more money. Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germonatta, has not commented. The website that offers the wristbands for sale, which a minimum domestic shipping fee of $3.99, says: "All proceeds go directly to Japan relief efforts."
"While we commend Lady Gaga for her philanthropic efforts, we want to ensure that claims that 'all proceeds will be donated to Japan's earthquake relief efforts' are in fact true," law firm partner Alyson Oliver said in a statement. "Our intention with this lawsuit is to uncover any improprieties committed by Lady Gaga and appropriate the full donations assumed to the victims in Japan."
The 1-800-LAW-FIRM statement says the firm is "seeking compensations, including consequential and special damages in amounts proved, as well as for statutory damages, including a return of all amounts paid for the products sold by Defendants to the Plaintiffs and the Class Members."
Also on Friday, the day the lawsuit was filed, Lady Gaga performed at the 10th annual MTV Video Music Awards Japan, which this year was also dubbed the Video Music Aid Japan event (see video below).
"So honored performing in Tokyo for Japan Aid and the passion of Marriage Equality in NY bled through our veins," Lady Gaga Tweeted on Friday, the day New York State legalized same-sex marriages, another cause she has long-championed.
In March, two weeks after the tsunami and earthquake stuck Japan, the gaming company Zynga Inc., creator of the popular Facebook game Farmville, announced that Lady Gaga donated $1.5 million through the sales of her Japan Prayer Bracelets to the company's fundraising initiative with Save the Children as well as to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts in Japan.
"I'm inspired that my little monsters banded together to help those affected by the terrible tragedy," Lady Gaga had said in Zynga's statement.
Gwen Stefani of the rock and ska band No Doubt and actress Sandra Bullock had also donated $1 million each to help relief efforts in Japan.
Also in March, actor Josh Duhamel hosted a 2-mile charity run aimed at raising funds to help American Red Cross' work in the country.
Check out a video of Lady Gaga performing at the MTV Video Music Aid Japan event in Tokyo.