Monday, January 8, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, January 8, 2001

Seinfeld wins Costanza court case

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Jerry Seinfeld and his television show producers have won an appeals court ruling that says a lawsuit over the George Costanza character should be dismissed.

The unanimous decision by the State Supreme Court's Appellate Division on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that the creators of "Seinfeld" did not violate Michael Costanza's privacy rights when they created the character. The Long Island man was seeking $100 million.

Costanza, 43, claimed the defendants had violated his privacy rights by using his "name, likeness and persona" to create the neurotic and nutty character.

Costanza said he and Seinfeld had been friends at Queens College. He said he and the sitcom's Costanza, played by Jason Alexander, had physical and personality traits in common, and had even held some of the same jobs.

Publicists for "Seinfeld" say the character was based on Larry David, the show's chief producer. David called Costanza a "flagrant opportunist" who exaggerated his relationship with Seinfeld.

In June 1999, Justice Harold Tompkins wrote, "While a program about nothing can be successful, a lawsuit must have more substance."

In upholding the ruling, the appeals court said the show's creators did not use Costanza's "name, portrait or picture," except in one episode in which the plaintiff appeared briefly as an actor.

The judges also said the statute of limitations had run out since Costanza did not sue within one year of the show's inception in 1989.

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