Chmerkovskiy was trying to educate people about childhood obesity, but his message backfired horribly, and now the family of the young girl is suing.
According to the lawsuit, obtained by People magazine, Chmerkovskiy posted a photo of the girl along with the text, “Letting your kid become obese should be considered child abuse.”
The family reportedly claims the photo was taken in June 2008 without their knowledge while the young girl was at a baseball game. The photographer then allegedly posted the photo to his Flickr account along with the text, “Everything that’s wrong with America.”
The photo became a meme in 2014, the publication reports, and it was in January that Chmerkovskiy shared it on his Facebook page — he was unaware the girl had Down syndrome and removed it three days later — an action the family claimed made the meme go viral. The lawsuit also alleges that the meme appeared on CBS News and is naming the outlet as a defendant, as well as the original photographer.
Responding to the claims, a spokesperson for CBS told People magazine, “Although we have not yet been served a copy of the complaint, we have removed the photo in question from a gallery that was published in 2011.”
The family noticed the meme of their daughter after the girl’s sister saw it on Chmerkovskiy’s Facebook page. According to People, the family is suing for “defamation, emotional distress and invasion of privacy and is seeking $6 million each from Chmerkovskiy and CBS, as well as $600,000 from the photographer.”