Q. How do you get your own back on estate agents? A. Make them the villians in CSI

A married couple are suing the makers of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, claiming that a writer of the hit TV series deliberately named two shady, sex-obsessed characters after them in revenge for a home sale that fell through.

Estate agents Scott and Melinda Tamkin want $6m (£3.75m) for defamation and invasion of privacy, after their names were given to a fictional pair of bondage-loving property entrepreneurs in a CSI episode entitled "Deep Fried and Minty Fresh".

In a lawsuit filed at LA County Superior Court this week, the husband and wife duo recall how they fell out with Sarah Goldfinger, a writer and producer responsible for that episode of the series, after she tried, and failed, to buy a house from one of their clients in 2005.

Goldfinger later attempted to publicly humiliate them, the couple claim, by "creating from whole cloth" characters named after them, who "engaged in a reckless lifestyle of sexual bondage, pornography, drunkenness, marital discord, depression, financial straits and possibly even murder".

The CSI episode in question, which aired in February, sees police forensics experts investigate whether the recently deceased Melinda died at the hands of her husband Scott, a mortgage broker who drinks heavily and spends most of his free time watching violent pornography.

Goldfinger gave the fictional couple the surnames Tamkin in both her script and synopses of the episode that were posted online, the lawsuit claims. She also stands accused of telling casting agents to send dark-haired actors who resembled the real-life couple to auditions for the roles.

The Tamkins, whose website touts their "hard work, honesty and ethics", say they first found out about the smear when Scott "Googled" his own name, and stumbled upon several CSI "spoiler" sites. He was particularly shocked to see pages discussing the fictional couple's kinky sex practices, many of which carried links to pornographic websites.

CBS, the show's broadcaster, immediately agreed to remove the plot synopses when Scott contacted them. They also agreed to have the characters' surname changed to "Tucker" in the version of the show that was finally broadcast.

However, a lawyer for the couple, who have three children and specialise in selling eco-friendly family homes in upmarket areas of Southern California, told the Los Angeles Times that the damage had already been done, since "spoiler" sites had carried the original names for five months. The "11th hour" change was "for all intents and purposes an admission that [Goldfinger] had stepped over the line".

Any potential client who did an internet search for the Tamkins' real estate company during the intervening period and came upon the description of the characters in the CSI synopsis would have been "highly unlikely" to "ever have contacted them and wanted to retain them as a professional real estate agent", claimed the lawyer, Anthony Glassman. "In this business, you never know why the phone doesn't ring."

The lawsuit, which was lodged on Friday, names a host of defendants, including Sarah Goldfinger and CBS, along with Jerry Bruckheimer, the Hollywood action movie impresario whose firm produces CSI, and Goldman Sachs, the finance company which bankrolled the episode in question.

None of the accused parties have yet commented on the case. However the extraordinary success of the CSI franchise means that whatever their defence, it will be difficult for them to play down the potential reach of the episode in question.

CSI, which follows police forensics teams investigating murders, is set in Las Vegas, with spin-off versions in New York and Miami. The three shows reach 50 million people in the US each week, and are syndicated to 200 countries, with a total audience estimated at two billion.

The phenomenal success of the show, which has been criticised for some of its violent and sexual themes, means there are hundreds of fan sites dedicated to the show, many of which carry detailed debates about the real-life crime stories and characters who have inspired each episode.

Goldfinger has worked on CSI since 2003, three years after it launched, and met the Tamkins in 2005 when they were representing the owners of a home in west Los Angeles that she was attempting to buy.

Glassman said that Goldfinger pulled out of the deal during "escrow", when a deposit has been paid but contract negotiations are typically still ongoing. However he said their business dealings were "just a normal interaction between potential buyer of a home and a real estate agent representing a seller".

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests