Woman sues man who set up a GoFundMe campaign for a Starbucks worker she shamed

On June 22, Amber Gilles, a yoga instructor from San Diego, posted a photo of a Starbucks employee to her Facebook page. She wrote: "Meet lenen [sic] from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I'm not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption."

When a man named Matt Cowan saw the post he launched a "Tips for Lenin" GoFundMe campaign for the Starbucks worker, Lenin Gutierrez. The campaign raised $105,445.

Now Gilles says she is entitled to some of that money and is suing Cowan for it. Her lawsuit asks for an unspecified monetary amount and alleges that Cowan's GoFundMe campaign constituted a "violation of her right to publicity," "misappropriation of her name and likeness," and "false light invasion of privacy." 

From USA Today:

In a statement to USA TODAY, Gilles, who lives in San Diego, said she's received threats on Facebook and her photography website was hacked. She also said she and her fiance have received calls in the middle of the night and have been "harassed by crazy people."

The case could be thrown out under California's anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation law, according to Eric Goldman, associate dean for research and a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. The state law is designed to prevent lawsuits that discourage speech about issues of public significance.

"The publicity rights are limited by the First Amendment and I think that the First Amendment ought to apply here," Goldman told USA TODAY. "I really think it will be an easy case. That there was no way to tell the barista's story without talking about what happened."

Meanwhile, Gilles and Cowan have each launched GoFundMe accounts of their own to support their legal bills. As of now, Gilles has raised $5,740 and Cowan has raised $21,772.