4:27pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Bill Cosby's Bid to End Accuser's Lawsuit Rips Into Gloria Allred's PR Tactics
Bill Cosby has filed a series of scathing briefs arguing that "egregious misconduct" by both the former and current attorneys of Judy Huth warrants the end of her lawsuit accusing the comedian of sexual battery and infliction of emotional distress over an alleged incident at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 1974.
Cosby's attorneys have been arguing ever since Huth first filed suit in December 2014 that it was procedurally improper. They fault Huth's ex-attorney Marc Strecker for rushing to the courthouse after making a $250,000 demand — he allegedly wanted to avoid an extortion charge — and naming Cosby as a defendant instead of "John Doe" without certificates of merit per rules of procedure.
What's new is how they are connecting Gloria Allred, one of Cosby's most vocal critics and Huth's current attorney, to alleged violations of procedure. They say Allred is a lawyer "with an unparalleled reputation for garnering media attention," and that the very day after Cosby brought the court's attention to Strecker's lapses, Allred held a press conference.
"How many people hold a press conference after they file a police report?" Cosby's attorney Andrew Brettler asks in a memo on Wednesday. "If Huth wanted to make a police report, she should have done so and just walked away. The Press Conference in front of the LAPD was a stunt during which Huth continued to thumb her nose at the strict anonymity requirements of Code of Civil Procedure §340.1(m) and to loudly identify Mr. Cosby as the defendant in this lawsuit before having permission of this Court to do so."
Cosby's lawyers have tried to use the rocky start to the lawsuit — Strecker admitted a "regrettable mistake" — to have the lawsuit rejected. They went up to an appeals court on this, but the California Supreme Court declined review. At the time, Allred presented it as a "major victory" in a press release, though in truth, the issues have hardly gone away.
On Wednesday, there will be a hearing on sanctions. It comes two days after a separate hearing on a motion for protective order, which would be a fairly routine matter if it didn't involve the tantalizing possibility of a new Cosby deposition becoming public. Of course, if the judge issues terminating sanctions, there may be no need in the first place for Cosby's deposition, which is scheduled for next Friday.
In the meantime, Cosby's lawyers are attempting to play Huth, Strecker and Allred against each other, portraying them each as distancing themselves from the others' actions. They say that Huth "tries to have no responsibility for what Ms. Allred said during the Press Conference," that Strecker in a declaration blames Allred for "speaking with the media about the claims," and that Allred has testified that nothing Strecker "filed in court in this matter was directed, authorized, controlled, ratified or otherwise performed on behalf of" Allred's law firm.
According to Cosby's papers, "Regardless of who takes responsibility for the egregious conduct and blatant statutory violations, the Court should grant the motion, issue terminating sanctions, and compensate Cosby for the legal fees and costs he has needlessly incurred in this action."
The Hollywood Reporter gave Allred an opportunity to respond to the charge she conducted a "publicity stunt" as well as the implication that she too participated in a violation of anonymity requirements. She referred to her own brief, which left that issue undiscussed (it was filed a week before Cosby's latest), but did say that whatever Strecker did, "Only Huth faces the ultimate draconian remedy, and whatever she faces was through no fault of her own."
The plaintiff's memo later goes on to state, "The perhaps uncomfortable truth is that [sexual misconduct] claims of this kind are by their nature embarrassing. Under §340.1, Cosby faced being sued by his real name from the second this suit was filed because the statute provides a mechanism for the plaintiff to sue him by his real name. Through his former attorney Mr. Strecker, Ms. Huth was able to file certificates that enabled the Court to find good cause to allow that very naming. If Cosby was embarrassed, his embarrassment was the inherent embarrassment of litigation such as this. His embarrassment was not the goal in filing, and Cosby has no evidence that it was."
In the very next line, the plaintiff makes the point that Huth has never spoken to the media concerning her allegations against Cosby. That seems precisely why Allred's PR tactics have become a flashpoint.