Woman sues over GoFundMe for Starbucks barista she targeted in a Facebook post after he asked her to wear a mask
SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - It started last June when a post about a barista named Lenin went viral.
Lenin had asked customer Amber Gilles to wear a mask.
She then posted a photo of him on Facebook saying, “Meet Lenin from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption.”
The post was shared publicly hundreds of thousands of times, many comments in support of the barista.
That’s when Matt Cowan stepped in: “I wanted to make a $10 tip donation to Lenin.”
He made a GoFundMe so other people could tip the barista, and it blew up. More than $100,000 was raised, and it all went to Lenin.
It’s the GoFundMe that is the root of a new lawsuit.
“There is an invasion of privacy aspect here as well and it’s defamatory and money was raised by him,” said Michael Harrington, Gilles’ attorney, who filed suit against Cowan and his company.
They allege he used her pictures to make a profit. Cowan said he never involved his company and she posted the photo publicly.
“Everything was done in a philanthropic sense, and I used publicly available information to populate my GoFundMe,” he said.
The suit says Gilles received death threats.
“I don’t see anything in her post that would warrant her being villainized, and her life being threatened over this,” Harrington said.
Cowan said he should not be penalized for the actions others take.
“She made a public Facebook post that went viral, and I’m not responsible for whatever anybody else sends to her,” he said.
Gilles wants a trial, looking for money from lost work, damages and lawyer fees.
Cowan said he would do it all again, because ultimately, it benefited the young barista.
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