'Life-altering injuries' cited in 'Bruno' suit
Universal calls woman's allegations baselessThe lawyer for a woman suing Sacha Baron Cohen over a scuffle at a charity bingo tournament said Friday that his client suffered "life-altering injuries."
Attorney Kyle Madison released a statement asking for privacy for Richelle Olson, who sued Baron Cohen on May 22 in Lancaster, Calif. Olson, 39, claimed Baron Cohen and a camera crew ambushed her on the stage of a bingo tournament that she organized to raise money for nursing students.
"The actions of Mr. Cohen and those acting in concert with him have resulted in life-altering injuries to my client," Madison's statement said. "My focus is her well-being and to secure a fair, just and equitable remedy for her claims. This claim is distinguishable from Mr. Cohen's previous lawsuits as a defendant."
The lawsuit states that Olson suffered brain injuries after a fall that happened as a result of actions by Baron Cohen and film workers, and that she now has to use either a walker or a wheelchair.
NBC Universal called the suit's allegations "completely baseless."
"Filmed footage of the full encounter, which took place more than two years ago, clearly shows that Ms. Olson was never touched or in any way assaulted by Sacha Baron Cohen or any member of the production and suffered no injury," said the statement released Friday by NBC Universal publicist Jen Chamberlain. "If the Olsons elect to proceed with their frivolous action, we expect each of the defendants to be fully vindicated."
Baron Cohen, whose 2006 film, "Borat," was a surprise hit, is a British comedian known for crafting outlandish characters. He often dupes people into interviews or settings where he films their reactions to his antics.
In his upcoming film, "Bruno," Baron Cohen plays a flamboyantly gay fashionista.
Several people featured in "Borat" sued Baron Cohen, claiming that his movie caused them humiliation. Olson's claim is the first to allege a serious physical injury.
Olson's suit states that she was contacted about having a celebrity call the numbers at the charity event in the desert city of Palmdale in May 2007 for a documentary on bingo. Baron Cohen, 37, showed up as Bruno and began using vulgarity in front of the audience, which was comprised mostly of senior citizens, the complaint states.
Olson's suit claims she got into a struggle with the comedian over a microphone, and that he called over his camera crew to accost her and try to provoke a reaction. The suit states Olson went offstage and a co-worker found her sobbing uncontrollably. When Olson tried to stand up, she fell, hitting her head on a concrete slab and suffering brain bleeds, according to an account in the lawsuit.