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Sarkozy and Bruni win lawsuit against airline

Ad featured a photo of the French President
February 5, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, won a lawsuit against Irish low-cost airline Ryanair, which was ordered to pay nearly $89,000 for an advertisement featuring a photo of the couple Sarkozy and Bruni filed separate lawsuits that were heard together in a court session in Paris, seeking damages for the carrier's use of the image for commercial purposes without permission.

Bruni, a former model turned singer, was awarded nearly $89,000. She had sought a more than $741,000. Sarkozy asked for a symbolic one euro - worth $1.47 - which the court granted.

Thierry Herzog, a lawyer for the couple, said Bruni had decided to donate the court award to Restos du Coeur - a network of charity soup kitchens well-known in France. Herzog called the ruling "satisfactory."

Airline spokesman Peter Sherrard also said the case had been "settled satisfactorily," and that Ryanair had offered to double-up by giving another sum worth nearly $89,000 to a charity of Sarkozy's choice because of the extraordinary publicity generated by the advertisement.

The advertisement, which appeared in Le Parisien newspaper on Jan. 28, shows Sarkozy and Bruni gazing skyward, with a think bubble over Bruni's head reading, "With Ryanair, my whole family will be able to attend my wedding."

Ryanair said late last month that it had sent a written apology to the president with a promise not to publish the ad again and an offer to donate the equivalent of $7,400 to his favorite charity. It made a similar offer to Bruni - plus a symbolic euro - but rejected her claim for more than $741,000 as "totally unjustified."

Sarkozy and Bruni were married on Saturday.


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