T.I. has scored another victory in his legal battle against MGA Entertainment after a judge ruled against the use of footage from his personal life as evidence.
The Hustle Gang boss and wife Tiny Harris have filed a lawsuit against the toymaker alleging that their line of L.O.L. Surprise OMG dolls borrow heavily from the OMG Girlz, who were signed to Tiny‘s Pretty Hustle imprint until 2015.
T.I. and Tiny claim that MGA announced it was planning on launching a line of dolls modeled after the OMG Girlz in 2010 but failed to secure a licensing agreement and allegedly refused to discuss compensation.
The couple wasn’t aware that the company had in fact released the dolls in 2019, until fans brought it to their attention. They claim they tried to settle the matter privately with MGA, which then allegedly prompted the toy company to file a lawsuit against the Atlanta couple.
According to Rolling Stone, attorneys for MGA Entertainment filed a motion on Thursday (January 19) requesting to enter clips from the Harris family’s cancelled VH1 reality show T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle as proof of negative personal elements that would have made the company avoid being associated with the family.
Namely, MGA wanted to enter into evidence scenes from the show surrounding T.I.’s now-infamous 2019 appearance on the Ladies Like Us podcast, where he revealed that he accompanied his daughter Deyjah Harris to the gynecologist to “check her hymen” in order to ensure she’s still a virgin. The family revisited the incident on a June 2020 episode of their show, during which Deyjah called the situation traumatizing.
In addition to using the reality TV segment to prove instances of “family strife,” MGA also attempted to introduce a 2016 Instagram video of T.I. smoking weed during a visit to South Africa as further proof that the Harrises are not morally aligned with MGA and its brands.
“Opposing counsel has been able to play video after video after video, not only of the OMG Girlz, but also the entire family looking good, looking like the all-American family,” the company’s lawyer Chase Scolnick argued, “and there are so many videos out there on social media, so many reasons that MGA would not like to make a doll line off these folks, that it’s just creating a misimpression for the jury.”
However, U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna denied the motion, stating that the Friends & Family Hustle clips could not be used in this case, as both T.I.’s podcast interview and the discussion about it on the show happened after the L.O.L. Surprise OMG dolls were released.
As for Tip’s marijuana use, the judge said that it was completely irrelevant to the case.
“To the extent it’s offered as a proof of their theory that they never would have done business had they known, for example, that Mr. Harris did marijuana in 2016, no one has come forward and said, ‘We knew about that conduct, and we wouldn’t have done business,’” Selna said. “For me, that’s the predicate for that type of evidence. So, all the items in the offer of proof are rejected and excluded.”
Judge Selna previously also ruled that MGA Entertainment attorneys could not use T.I.’s criminal history in court either, stating that he would not allow “sliming” on either side of this legal fight.
Tiny Harris testified in the case on Thursday that she believes the company “ripped off” the “signature” look she helped to create for the OMG Girlz and specifically the group’s final lineup: her daughter Zonnique Pullins, Bahja Rodriguez and Breaunna Womanck, who performed under the stage names Star, Beauty and Babydoll, respectively.
Harris said that one particular L.O.L. Surprise OMG doll, Chillax, was modeled around the trio’s 2013 All Around The World Tour looks.
“This doll is too familiar. The outfit for me is a big, big deal,” she said during her testimony, which continued on Friday (January 20). “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t the OMG brand, all the different coincidences, the outfit we created. This particular outfit was designed, created, handmade, if you will, for the girls’ tour.”
The OMG Girlz was originally a quartet ranging in age from 11 to 13. Alongside Zonnique and Bahja the gourp’s first lineup included Lil Wayne’s daughter Reginae Carter, and Bahja’s sister Lourdes Rodriguez.
Shortly after the group debuted their first single, “Ain’t Nobody,” in 2010, Reginae, who was the youngest among the girls, left the group.
Best known for their singles “Can’t Stop Loving You”, “Where the Boys At?”, and “Gucci This (Gucci That),” they also made multiple appearances on the 2012 series T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle. The group disbanded in 2015.