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Celebrities Suing Celebrities? More Common than You Think

In celebrity legal news, lawsuits abound. Some of the “celebs on both sides” cases we see most often are when musicians sued other musicians on matters focusing mostly on intellectual property rights and licensing issues and, of course, lots of “celebs on both sides”  cases in Hollywood divorces. On PROOFwithJillStanley, I’ve discussed other “celeb on celeb” cases including Sean Penn and Lee Daniel’s legal tangle but the cases below you may not know about and they involve some pretty big names and are likely matters you have not heard about. Take a look!

 

Quentin Tarantino vs. Alan Ball

In 2011, the well known film screenwriter and director Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) and the equally successful TV screenwriter and producer Alan Ball (True Blood) were neighbors. Quite the street, right? At the time, Ball liked exotic birds and he kept many on his property some of which lived outside. Well, you can probably guess what happened. Birds? Squawking? I don’t know about you but even the chirp of a Hummingbird gets on my nerves and makes it hard for me to concentrate. That must be what Quentin Tarantino and I have in common because he alleged that Ball’s birds emitted constant “blood-curdling screams” and prevented Tarantino from working and sleeping. Ball knew the birds were disruptive and is said to have promised Penn that he would build a soundproof outdoor home for them and in the interim would keep them inside his house.  

 

At some point Ball changed his mind, the birds stayed outside, the screaming continued and Tarantino had had it! He hired celebrity big-gun lawyer Marty Singer and Singer did his thing: filed a lawsuit on Tarantino’s behalf against Ball alleging, among other things, that the noise of the birds was robbing his client from the ability to find peace in his own home. No judge or jury got to hear the details of this famous neighbor battle because the suit was soon dropped. Likely, Ball and Tarantino worked out a settlement that kept peace in the neighborhood and allowed these two talented Hollywood insiders to do what they do best: create.  

 

Cary Grant vs. Chevy Chase

Odd combination, right? Cary Grant and Chevy Chase’s names in the same sentence and about a lawsuit? It’s true and the facts are not known to many.  But, in 1980, Chevy Chase (for those who don’t know, Chase is a great comedic actor. I can’t hear his name without the movie Caddyshack popping right into my head!) was a guest on TV talk show, Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow.  Snyder, believing he was giving Chase a compliment told Chase that many people compared him to a young Cary Grant. Chase, replied, “I understand he was a homo. He was brilliant. What a gal!” Of course these words are not funny, and they were especially unfunny to Cary Grant who filed a $10 million lawsuit against Chase for defamation. The case settled and that’s a good thing given the parties. A lawsuit would have dragged these two big Hollywood names through the mud and would have affected their lives in ways they would not want.  The settlement was confidential but allegedly Chase paid Grant $1 million. That number seems a  little light, even for 1980, but my gut tells me there were probably some words of apology uttered by Chase to Grant that made the settlement a bit easier to work out. Remorse and true acceptance of fault goes a long way for most people.

 

Janice Dickinson vs. Bill Cosby

Over fifty women have alleged that Bill Cosby drugged them and sexually assaulted them. Former supermodel and reality TV star Janice Dickinson is one of those women. She has accused Cosby of raping her 30 plus years ago. Because the statute of limitations had run, the state  (on Dickinson’s behalf) was unable to pursue criminal charges against Cosby. She was also initially time barred from pursuing civil claims against him but all of that changed when Cosby, through his lawyer, responded to Dickinson’s claims and called her a liar. Dickinson hired her own lawyer and sued Cosby for defamation for calling her a liar (as are several other women across the country). Among the damages Dickinson is claiming are emotional distress, loss of business, and loss of reputation. At the time of this writing none of the Cosby cases, civil or criminal  (there is only pending criminal matter) have gone to trial but they will or he will have to settle the civil ones and take a plea if offered in the criminal one. Either way, Cosby is going to have to face his accusers.

Jesse Ventura vs. Chris Kyle

How does a former pro wrestler (and governor of Minnesota) end up in a courtroom with a cherished military hero? The late Chris Kyle is known as the most lethal sniper in US military history. The film American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper, was about Kyle’s life and was based on Kyle’s autobiography of the same name. In his book, Kyle claimed to have a knock-down bar brawl with a man he referred to as “Scruff Face”. The cause of the fight that Kyle alleged he has won? Scruff Face was being disrespectful. In interviews, Kyle later revealed that Scruff Face was actually wrestler, Jesse Ventura. Jesse “The Body” Ventura, as he was known in his wrestling days, was not amused. Ventura said the fight never happened; in 2012 he sued Kyle for defamation. Before the case went to trial, Kyle was murdered by a fellow military veteran but Ventura did not drop the suit. In 2014 a jury awarded him $500,000 for defamation and $1.34 million for unjust enrichment. Kyle’s estate, represented by his widow, appealed. One of her her arguments was that Ventura’s attorney told the jury that any award given to his client would be paid by the book publisher and not his widow. The US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit agreed with this argument and in June of 2016, tossed the $1.8 million award and sent the case  back to the courts. We will see if The Body decides to go another round with the American Sniper.


proof-with-jill-stanleyThanks to our friend and contributor, Attorney Jill Stanley from Proof with Jill Stanley, for her insight into celebrity lawsuits.

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Steve Harrelson
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