UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
________________________________________________
:
CARMINE O. TILELLI a/k/a JOEY GIARDELLO : CIVIL ACTION
1214 Severn Avenue :
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002 :
:
Plaintiff, :
:
v. : NO.
:
UNIVERSAL PICTURES COMPANY, INC. :
100 Universal City Plaza :
Universal City, CA 91608 :
: JURY TRIAL
and : DEMANDED
:
BEACON COMMUNICATIONS CORP. :
t/a BEACON PICTURES :
1041 North Formosa Avenue :
Los Angeles, CA 90046 :
:
and :
:
AZOFF FILMS, INC. :
10100 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 1300 :
Los Angeles, CA 90067 :
:
and :
:
JOHN DOE (1-3), JANE DOE (1-3), JOHN DOE :
CORPORATION (1-3), and JOHN DOE :
PARTNERSHIP (1-3) :
c/o Universal Pictures Company, Inc. :
100 Universal City Plaza :
Universal City, CA 91608 :

c/o Beacon Communications Corp. :
t/a Beacon Pictures :
1041 North Formosa Avenue :
Los Angeles, CA 90046 :
:
Defendants. :
________________________________________________:
CIVIL ACTION - COMPLAINT

 

I. The Parties

1. Plaintiff, Carmine O. Tilelli, is an adult individual, citizen, and resident
of the State of New Jersey, with a home at 1214 Severn Avenue, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002.
(Tilelli is more popularly known by his ring name "Joey Giardello" and is hereinafter referred
to as "Giardello.")
2. Defendant, Universal Pictures Company, Inc., is, upon information and
belief, a California business corporation which appointed as agent for purposes of service of
process C.P. Corporation System, 818 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017.
3. Universal Pictures Company, Inc. (hereinafter "Universal") is in the
business of, inter alia, producing and distributing feature motion pictures for broadcast
publication worldwide for a profit.
4. Universal has its principal place of business in the State of California,
but conducts business in each and every state within the United States, including the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and many foreign countries.
5. Defendant, Beacon Communications Corp., is, upon information and
belief, a California corporation whose address and principal place of business are located at
1041 North Formosa Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046.
6. Beacon Communications Corp. trades as Beacon Pictures (hereinafter
"Beacon") and is in the business of, inter alia, producing and distributing feature motion
pictures for broadcast publication worldwide for a profit.
7. Beacon has its principal place of business in the state of California, but
conducts business in each and every state within the United States, including the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and many foreign countries.
8. Defendant, Azoff Films, Inc. is upon information and belief, a California
corporation whose address and principal place of business are located at 10100 Santa Monica
Boulevard, Suite 1300, Los Angeles, CA 90067.
9. Azoff Films, Inc. (hereinafter "Azoff") and is in the business of, inter
alia, producing and distributing films for publication worldwide for a profit.
10. Each of the John Doe, Jane Doe, John Doe Corporate, and John Doe
Partnership defendants are individuals or entities whose precise identity is yet unknown to
Plaintiff, but who had a direct primary or secondary role in the making or publication of The
Hurricane and as such are jointly and severally liable for the false light and defamatory
statements and for the damages to Plaintiff complained of herein. The precise identity of such
Defendants will subsequent to the taking of discovery be more precisely identified by way of
an amended Complaint, but for purposes herein such Does are hereby put on notice directly
and through service of process on the other Defendants that such claims exists as to them.
Each such Doe defendant is believed to have either a residence or a principal place of business
(and state of enabling) other than New Jersey.
11. Each and all of the Defendants collaborated, were responsible for,
created, and published in unison The Hurricane, and each and all of the Defendants were
responsible for all of the wrongful acts and damages hereinafter described.
II. Jurisdiction and Venue
12. Subject matter jurisdiction is predicated both upon the diversity of
citizenship of the parties pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. 1332 and an amount in controversy,
exclusive of interest and costs, exceeding $75,000.
13. This Court has personal jurisdiction over the Defendants pursuant to
Pennsylvania's Long-Arm Statute, 42 Pa. C.S.A. 5322, and the Due Process Clause of the
14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, U.S. Const. Amend. XIV, because both
Defendants regularly conduct business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; including, inter
alia, the distribution and publication of the motion picture entitled The Hurricane, which form
the basis of this Complaint.
14. Venue in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is based on 28 U.S.C.A.
1391(a), because the underlying events of this false light complaint actually occurred in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, most of the original witnesses to the underlying event reside in or
about the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area, and the acts complained of were broadcast and
published in or about the Philadelphia area.
III. Facts
15. Giardello, whose date of birth is July 16, 1930, is a retired professional
boxer from South Philadelphia, who during his stellar career amassed a won-loss-tie record of
100/25/7, with 32 knockouts. In 1993, Giardello was inducted into the International Boxing
Hall of Fame.
16. On October 2, 1948, at the age of 18, Giardello began his professional
boxing career with a second round knockout of Johnny Noel, and up until 1963 had become
one of the world's highest ranked middleweights. His fight record included four fights with
the legendary Dick Tiger, a 1951 decision over contender Ernie Durando which propelled
Giardello into the world rankings, and in 1952-53 a thrilling three-fight series (the first two of
which Giardello won) with Hall-of-Famer Billy Graham.
17. Giardello first fought for the Middleweight Championship in April 1960
against Gene Fullmer, but after 15 rounds the fight was declared a draw.
18. On December 7, 1963, in his second shot at a title, Giardello defeated
then world champion Dick Tiger to become the undisputed Middleweight Champion of the
World.
19. Up until that championship fight in 1963 with Dick Tiger, Giardello was
known as a courageous, talented, duck-no-fighter competitor whose in-the-ring
accomplishments made him legendary in and around the Northeast United States generally, and
throughout boxing circles worldwide.
20. Giardello was also well known to have worked very hard to achieve
championship status, and the sincerity and deservedness of his accomplishments were a
significant aspect of the respect and affection the public held of him. Until the events
complained of herein, that remained one of Giardello's most enduring legacies.
21. Upon becoming the World's Middleweight champion in December 1963,
Giardello had the discretion of choosing whomever he wanted as his next opponent for his first
title defense.
22. At the time, there were many would-be challengers from diverse
geographical areas and ethnic origins, all pining for the opportunity to fight Giardello for the
Middleweight Championship title.
23. Because Giardello was (and was known as) a fearless competitor and a
man not given to ethnic or racial preferences of any type, he decided to grant Rubin
"Hurricane" Carter (hereinafter "Carter"), then a highly ranked Middleweight, the opportunity
to challenge him for the world Middleweight Championship.
24. On December 14, 1964, Giardello and Carter fought at Convention Hall,
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in front of a crowd estimated at 6,000 people.
25. The fight was broadcast on television.
26. Giardello had no role in the selection of the judges nor the referee of the
fight.
27. The fight was scheduled for and actually lasted a full 15 rounds, and at
its conclusion Giardello was unanimously awarded the decision over Carter scored on the "5-
point-must-system" as follows:
Giardello Carter
Referee/Polis: 72 66
Judge/Mina: 71 66
Judge/Beloff: 70 67
28. Contemporaneous news reports and expert analysis generally agreed
Giardello won the fight and that Carter had not done enough to take the championship away.
29. Indeed, within the boxing community, both amongst professionals in the
industry and amongst boxing fans, it was and still is understood that in order for a champion to
be dethroned, the challenger must win convincingly. On information and belief, Carter
understood this as well.
30. During the actual fight itself, Carter scored in the early rounds with
heavy intermittent blows, but except for an accidental head butt, never cut or drew blood from
Giardello. During the middle and later rounds, Giardello came on strong both in terms of
hitting Carter with combinations and with inside-fighting.
31. Even as recently as January 2000, Carter has stated publicly he lost the
fight, that he was not busy enough during the fight to take the championship away from
Giardello, and that in an effort to make sure he could go the full 15 rounds, he strategically
(though mistakenly) held back some of his aggressiveness.
32. Present-day boxing experts knowledgeable about the actual fight and the
manner by which boxing matching matches are judged generally agree Giardello won the fight.
33. In or about the latter part of December, 1999, Defendants collectively
and in cooperation with each other caused to be published throughout the United States a
motion picture entitled The Hurricane, and advertised and publicized such movie as "based on
a true story."
34. In The Hurricane, a depiction of the Giardello-Carter 1964 Middleweight
Championship bout is broadcast with repeated and specific audio and visual references to "Joey
Giardello."
35. The Hurricane depicts Round 15 of the 1964 Giardello-Carter fight in
scenes that show (only) the following: Giardello trapped on the ropes, hands down, in a
defenseless posture pummeled by Carter right hands and left hooks; Carter drawing blood from
Giardello by punches; a decision in favor of Giardello, followed by uproarious protest from the
audience, implying a fix and racial prejudice (the theme of the movie) motivating the decision;
and an announcer protesting, among other things, that the decision was a travesty and that
"[he] doesn't know which fight they [the Philadelphia judges] were watching."
36. The scenes in The Hurricane concerning the 1964 Giardello-Carter fight
are absolutely false, never happened, and bear no reasonable resemblance to the truth.
37. Neither in the 15th round nor otherwise was Giardello ever trapped on
the ropes being struck by Carter in a helpless or defenseless position, nor ever repeatedly
struck by Carter without response, and Giardello never bloodied by punches from Carter.
38. The 15th round of the Giardello-Carter fight was a close, hard-fought
round in which neither man was dominant over the other.
39. Further, though there were partisans in the audience the night of the
actual fight, the audience was not singularly uproarious in protest (as depicted in The
Hurricane), nor were there any racial overtones exhibited by the audience, the judges, or the
fighters.
40. Further, the broadcasters of the fight did not protest the decision, and
made no comments portrayed by the sportscasters in The Hurricane.
41. Indeed, the broadcasters of the fight complimented both fighters and
repeatedly commented upon the skill of Giardello exhibited during the fight.
42. At the end of the movie, before rolling credits, The Hurricane purports
to "update" the audience about certain events occurring subsequent to the last events it depicts,
including the fate of the Canadians who helped secure Carter's eventual release from prison.
43. Amongst the "updates," The Hurricane publishes to the audience that in
1993 the WBC awarded Carter the Middleweight Championship Belt, implying that even the
sanctioning body now admits Carter was robbed of the title in the Giardello-Carter fight and
that the championship -- like his new-found freedom -- rightly belonged to Carter.
44. Completely untold by The Hurricane, the facts of the matter are:
(a) The WBC was not the sanctioning organization of the fight;
(b) The WBC did not function as a sanctioning organization for all
championship fights at the time;
(c) At no time ever did the WBC purport to strip Giardello of his
Middleweight Championship;
(d) The symbolic championship belt was, according to the WBC
itself, awarded to Carter "as a tribute and an apology for his false imprisonment for 20 years
on account of a crime which he had not committed and for which he was exonerated," and had
nothing to do with the decision in the Giardello-Carter fight; and
(e) The championship belt was awarded at a WBC banquet held in
Las Vegas at which both Giardello and Carter were guests, that Giardello was also "awarded"
such a belt, and that in reality such belts were essentially mementos.
45. Defendants' portrayal of the 1964 Giardello-Carter fight in The
Hurricane was deliberately fabricated in order to serve Defendants' theme of the movie, to
wit: that because of racial prejudice, Carter's life was destroyed and he was robbed of those
things (freedom and the Championship) which he rightly deserved.
46. At no time did Defendants or any of their representatives ever contact
Giardello prior to the publication of The Hurricane to interview him about the fight, the
results, or how the fight was fought, nor upon information and belief did Defendants ever
contact any of the judges, the referee, or the announcer of the fight in preparing The
Hurricane.
47. The portrayal of Giardello in The Hurricane as a hapless fighter who
benefits from a racially motivated or fixed scoring system is an outrageous and offensive
falsehood directly and proximately causing the harm hereinafter described.
48. The portrayal of Giardello in The Hurricane as an individual who would
accept ill-begotten fruits of racism is an outrageous and offensive falsehood and, as such,
defamatory in its meaning and undeniable implication that Giardello too was part of a racist
conspiracy to harm Carter.
49. Further, the portrayal of a crowd and audience and broadcaster
expressing utter contempt for the decision in favor of Giardello is equally outrageous and
offensive and it too caused damages directly and proximately hereinafter described.
50. Further, the implication that -- like his freedom -- Carter was ultimately
awarded a championship wrongfully withheld from him, is an outrageous distortion of the facts
and is offensive, and it too caused damages directly and proximately hereinafter described.
51. The Defendants acted purely out of concern for their own profit and in
intentional and deliberate disregard of the truth or the reputation of Giardello.
52. The Defendants' false light publicity of Giardello's role and performance
in the 1964 Giardello-Carter fight is highly offensive to a reasonable person.
53. The Defendants had knowledge of or acted in reckless disregard to the
falsity of the publicized fight and the false light in which Giardello was placed.
54. Further, Defendants acted with actual malice toward the rights and
reputation of Giardello solely in an effort to enhance the emotional impact on the general
public of The Hurricane and to inexcusably symbolize at Giardello's expense the harshness of
the injustices visited upon Carter by the New Jersey criminal justice system, all of which were
designed to increase Defendants' profits.
IV. Relief Requested
COUNT I
Plaintiff v. All Defendants
(Invasion of Privacy by False Light)

55. Plaintiff hereby incorporates by reference all of the paragraphs of this
Complaint as though fully set forth herein at length.
56. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants' publication of The
Hurricane, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer the following:
(a) A humiliation and smear as a hapless, no-talent fighter who did
not deserve to be Middleweight champion of the world following the Giardello-Carter fight;
(b) A false perception that Plaintiff was the beneficiary of a fixed or
racially motivated decision in the 1964 Giardello-Carter fight;
(c) A revisionist history -- not of a courageous and talented world
champion -- but of a beaten-up pug;
(d) A legacy -- not of a man who worked tirelessly his entire
professional career to be a winner and to be a hero -- but of a man not worthy of respect or
honor;
(e) A loss in the minds of much of the public as a historic figure who
accomplished -- legitimately -- what few others have been able to do -- an undisputed boxing
world championship;
(f) A false perception that, in 1993, Giardello was stripped of his
Middleweight Championship belt and that it was then awarded to Rubin Carter;
(g) A loss of dignity and accomplishment; and
(h) Other emotional and psychological suffering.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests this Court to enter a judgment against
all Defendants, jointly and severally, in an amount in excess of Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars
($75,000), together with all other compensatory damages, punitive damages, and such other
relief as the Court deems just and appropriate.
COUNT II
Plaintiff v. All Defendants
(Defamation by Libel and Slander)

57. Plaintiff hereby incorporates by reference all of the paragraphs of this
Complaint as though fully set forth herein at length.
58. The Hurricane defames Giardello with pictures, spoken words, and
printed material knowing the same to be false, in reckless disregard of the truth, and with
actual malice.
59. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants' publication of The
Hurricane, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer the following:
(a) A smear as a hapless, no-talent fighter who did not deserve to be
Middleweight champion of the world following the 1964 Giardello-Carter fight;
(b) A false statement and implication that Plaintiff was the willing
beneficiary of a fixed or racially motivated decision in the 1964 Giardello-Carter fight;
(c) A revisionist history -- not of a courageous and talented world
champion -- but of a beaten-up pug;
(d) A legacy -- not of a man who worked tirelessly his entire
professional career to be a winner and to be a hero -- but of a man not worthy of respect or
honor;
(e) A loss in the minds of much of the public as a historic figure who
accomplished -- legitimately -- what few others have been able to do: an undisputed boxing
world championship; and
(f) Other emotional and psychological suffering.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests this Court to enter a judgment against
all Defendants, jointly and severally, in an amount in excess of Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars
($75,000), together with all other compensatory damages, punitive damages, and such other
relief as the Court deems just and appropriate.
COUNT III
Plaintiff v. Defendants Universal, Beacon and Azoff
(For A Mandatory Permanent Injunction)

60. Plaintiff hereby incorporates by reference all of the paragraphs of this
Complaint as though fully set forth herein at length.
61. The Defendants are publishing and promoting The Hurricane with a
multi-million dollar advertising campaign, and have distributed The Hurricane to virtually
every city, township, and community in the United States.
62. The combination of the massive advertising revenues committed to The
Hurricane by the Defendants, together with the publicity drawn to The Hurricane by artistic
reviewers, has made for pervasive publication of The Hurricane.
63. Further, upon information and belief, Defendants plan to reap yet
additional significant profits and accomplish further publication of The Hurricane by
distributing VHS and DVD versions of it for sale and rental through thousands of stores across the United States and worldwide. Such sales and rentals will continue for an indeterminable period of time in the future, during which millions of people will view The Hurricane.
64. Consequently, the widespread nature of the publications, the
repetitiveness of the publications, and the enduring nature of the publications, will, in reality,
rewrite the history of the 1964 Giardello-Carter fight and Giardello's historic standing in the
minds of millions of boxing fans and people.
65. Giardello lives on a fixed income, and has neither the opportunity nor
the wherewithal to make or distribute his own movie.
66. Giardello has no resources with which to mount a public relations
campaign, nor to publish in either print or video form, an accurate portrayal of his fight with
Carter, which would in any way ever come close to counteracting the false light publicity and
defamation caused by Defendants.
67. Giardello became World Middleweight champion in 1963 -- and
remained so through 1964 and 1965 -- at a time when there were only eight weight divisions,
and only one recognized champion per weight division. Because this was so Giardello is
amongst only a handful of human beings in the World who earned such status.
68. Giardello was until the publication of The Hurricane, in the sporting
world and elsewhere, a historic figure because of his accomplishments, attitude, and integrity.
69. No amount of money can compensate Giardello or his family for the
false light, defamatory, and outrageous revisionist history published by The Hurricane, and
there exists no adequate remedy at law.
70. A clear and highly understandable tape of the actual Giardello-Carter
fight exists, and is available to the Defendants.
71. Further, the technology now exists to include both on VHS and DVD
versions of The Hurricane copies of the actual 1964 Giardello-Carter fight (or representative
portions thereof) at de minimis additional costs to Defendants.
72. Further, in the "updates" portion of the movie, it would be virtually
costless to include an account of the WBC's reason for "awarding" Carter a championship belt
in 1993 and that the WBC was not the sanctioning body of the 1964 Giardello-Carter fight.
73. The injunctive relief being requested herein will only follow a jury
determination that Defendants' publication as to Giardello are unprotected, false-light, and
defamatory, and as such mandatory injunctive relief will be reasonable, just, and
constitutional.
74. The injunctive relief being sought herein will mitigate the extent of
irreparable injury to Giardello's reputation and will help preserve Giardello's rightful place in
history.
75. The injunctive relief being sought herein will serve the greater public
policy of truthfulness than of protecting deliberate false and defamatory publicity and will not
in any way prevent, hinder, or chill the free expression of protected speech.
76. More harm will be avoided by awarding the injunctive relief sought
herein than will be caused by its denial.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests a mandatory permanent injunction after
a jury determination of defamation or false light liability such as would require the Defendants
Universal and Beacon when licensing, distributing, or otherwise authorizing the movie The
Hurricane for sale or rental in any form or format to also include:
1. A prefatory notice to the viewer that the actual 1964 Giardello-
Carter fight (or representative portions thereof) can be viewed
following the conclusion of the movie; and
2. A broadcast at the end of the movie of the actual 1964 Giardello-
Carter fight, or representative portions thereof (and, if
representative portions thereof are used, a notice that a full tape
recording of the 1964 Giardello-Carter fight can be viewed on the
Internet at www.joeygiardello.com); and
3. A supplement to the "updates" of the movie to inform the
audience the WBC's stated purpose in awarding Carter a
championship belt was as "a tribute and apology for his false
imprisonment for 20 years on account of a crime he had not
committed and for which he was exonerated," and the fact that
the WBC was not the sanctioning body of the 1964 Giardello-
Carter championship fight; and
4. Such other equitable and injunctive relief as can be lawfully
crafted by the Court upon a conclusion of the trial, together with
costs and attorneys' fees as the Court deems just.
Respectfully submitted,

BOCHETTO & LENTZ, P.C.

 

 

By:_________________________________
George Bochetto, Esquire
Attorney for Carmine O. Tilelli a/k/a
Joey Giardello
Date:________________________

BOCHETTO & LENTZ, P.C.
1524 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 735-3900

 

 

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