Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks has authorized her doctor to release medical records and explain why the 91-year-old cannot testify in a lawsuit she brought against hip-hop group OutKast, her lawyers said Thursday.
Parks claims OutKast’s 1998 song “Rosa Parks” violated her publicity and trademark rights. The lawsuit alleges entertainment giant BMG and two of its units — Arista and LaFace Records — used her name without permission for commercial purposes. OutKast is excluded from the lawsuit.
Parks wants her name removed from future versions of the record and is seeking unspecified damages. A jury trial is set to begin Jan. 10.
Defense lawyers asked to interview Parks but her lawyers say her frail health prevents her from testifying. A federal judge last month ruled Parks’ doctor would have to explain the medical reasons why she cannot testify and provide relevant medical records.
Parks’ lawyers told the judge Thursday that Parks had given her consent for the records’ release to the defense.
The song is about the entertainment industry, and its lyrics do not refer to Parks by name. The chorus is: “Ah-ha, hush that fuss. Everybody move to the back of the bus.”
Parks made history in December 1955 when she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., city bus. Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system by blacks and led to court rulings desegregating public transportation nationwide.