Jury Rules Against Man in Indianapolis Skyline Photo Lawsuit

(INDIANAPOLIS) — An attorney who sued a real estate company for using a photo of the Indianapolis skyline on its website that he claims he shot failed to prove he captured the image or that he owns the copyright, a federal jury ruled.

Richard Bell and photo

Richard Bell, who lives in McCordsville, sued Carmen Commercial Real Estate Services in 2016 alleging it had unlawfully used the image showing a fountain in the Indianapolis Canal.

Jurors in Indianapolis reached the verdict Tuesday.

Bell has filed at least 90 such infringement cases in the past eight years, and two were resolved in his favor for $150,000 each, court records show. The latest ruling could prevent Bell from taking further legal action.

“It would seem impossible for him to bring any additional lawsuits in good faith,” said Paul Overhauser, Carmen’s lawyer. “The jury determined Bell did not own the photo, which now means all of the defendants he has sued across the country should be able to use this jury finding to get their cases decided in their favor.”

Bell and his attorney have not responded to messages left Friday seeking comment.

Overhauser said Bell testified in a previous case that he shot the photograph on March 8, 2000. Bell said he then returned to the site that night to take another photo, which he alleged was also used without consent.

But Mark Peterson, the general manager of the Indianapolis-Marion County Building Authority, confirmed the fountain is not turned on until April 1 of each year, a copy of the affidavit said.

Christopher Carmen, the president of Carmen Commercial Real Estate Services, noted the photo’s depiction of lush green trees and spring foliage also contradicted Bell’s claim.

“That’s not March in Indiana,” Carmen said. “I’m not sure that’s March in South Florida.”