Lady Gaga has been sued over sales of her “We Pray for Japan” wristbands by a law firm that accuses her of not donating all the proceeds to relief efforts made after the earthquake and tsunami that struck the country in March.
Michigan legal network 1800LAWFIRM alleges that Gaga and other companies involved in the sale and marketing of the $5 white and red “We Pray for Japan” wristbands overcharged buyers on shipping costs and “artificially inflated reports of total donations.”
Alyson Oliver, an attorney for 1800LAWFIRM, said: “While we commend Lady Gaga for her philanthropic efforts, we want to ensure that claims that ‘all proceeds will be donated to Japan’s earthquake’ are in fact true.” She added: “Our intention via this lawsuit is to uncover any improprieties committed by Lady Gaga and appropriate the full donations assumed to the victims in Japan.”
Further, as a video posted on the firm’s website claims, tax was collected on the wristbands. Tax wouldn’t be collected on a purely charitable donation the site notes, raising suspicions of misconduct.
A 25-year-old Gaga and her representatives did not return calls to comment the situation on Monday. “When we tried to communicate with the defendants in this lawsuit, all we got was, ‘well, some of the money is being retained, but we don’t really know how much,” Oliver told NBC Chicago.
The federal class action lawsuit was filed in Michigan on Friday while Lady Gaga was in Japan for a benefit concert for victims of the March disaster. Also Lady Gaga Tweeted Friday (the day New York State legalized same-sex marriages, another cause she has long-championed): “So honored performing in Tokyo for Japan Aid and the passion of Marriage Equality in NY bled through our veins.”
It was reported that Gaga had donated about $3 million to Japan disaster relief through sales of the wristbands. However there were several comments from frustrated fans on the official website for the singer’s store complaining about long delivery times and shipping and handling costs of more than $5 for the small rubber wristbands.
In March, two weeks after the tsunami and earthquake stuck Japan, the gaming company Zynga Inc., creator of the popular Facebook game Farmville, reported that Lady Gaga donated $1.5 million through the sales of her Japan Prayer Bracelets to the company’s fundraising initiative with Save the Children as well as to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts in Japan. Lady Gaga had said in Zynga’s statement: “I’m inspired that my little monsters banded together to help those affected by the terrible tragedy.” [via The Telegraph, Reuters and OnTheRedCarpet]