A Pennsylvania business that markets a device it claims will stop hiccups is being sued by its most famous customer.
The parents of Jennifer Mee, the Florida teen who gained notoriety last year for her incessant hiccuping, are suing Hic-Cup Ltd., over the use of the girl's name and image in advertising for the product.
The suit, filed in Bucks County Court on Monday, seeks in excess of $50,000.
Michelle Ehlinger, president of Hic-Cup Ltd. in Doylestown, was not aware of the suit when contacted early Monday afternoon. The business later issued a statement denying the claims of Jennifer's parents, Christopher and Rachael Robidoux.
According to the suit, Ehlinger contacted the Robidoux family on Feb. 19, 2007, after Jennifer, then 15, had appeared on the TODAY show because of her hiccup problem. According to the court papers, on Jan. 23, 2007, the teen had started hiccuping 50 times per minute. The hiccups lasted for five weeks.
The suit said Ehlinger offered Jennifer a free Hic-Cup as a remedy. The Hic-Cup is a stainless steel cup with a brass anode — a stem that looks like a straw — connected to the side with a plastic clip. When a user drinks out of the cup, the top of the anode touches the user's temple, completing a circuit that sends a charge into the vagus nerve. The slight shock is enough in many cases to stop the hiccups.
Along with getting the free Hic-Cup, Jennifer also was promised a “generous and lucrative contract" and an "immediate cash signing bonus,” the suit claims.
In late February, Jennifer's hiccups lessened, and in a March 3 appearance on the TODAY show, she said she had done multiple things, including using the Hic-Cup, in an effort to end her hiccuping.
The suit said Hic-Cup Ltd. then offered her a verbal contract to pay her $2,500 to mention the device on a "specific television appearance." Jennifer did mention the product and was paid the $2,500, according to the suit.
However, the Robidoux family said that the $2,500 was a one-time fee for one television appearance. The suit said there was no agreement to use Jennifer's name or image in any other form of advertising or marketing of the Hic-Cup. However, Ehlinger continued to use Jennifer's name and photographs in sales brochures, advertisements, the Internet and commercials on radio and television.
The suit is claiming invasion of privacy, misappropriation of name and likeness, and breach of contract, as well as unjust enrichment from using Jennifer's name and image.