August 09, 2012 3:44pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Johnny Depp Wins Key Rulings in Hollywood Palladium Altercation Lawsuit
Johnny Depp has scored some success in an ongoing lawsuit over an alleged altercation at an Iggy and the Stooges concert at the Hollywood Palladium.
In April, Depp and Live Nation were sued by an anonymous woman who claims she was beaten at the December concert by Depp's entourage and concert security guards.
On Thursday, Depp got the judge overseeing the case to order that the woman identify herself before going forward. L.A. Superior Court judge Michael Johnson also rejected the possibility of punitive damages and attorney's fees on the existing allegations and threw out several causes of action.
In the original lawsuit, the woman, a medical professor at UC Irvine who says she is handicapped, claimed that she had attended the concert with her husband, and at some point, Depp and his entourage became confrontational with her.
She was allegedly dragged across the VIP section, and as her shoes came off and her clothes were disheveled, she was handcuffed and dragged through the venue, "exposing her buttocks to the other Hollywood Palladium theater patrons."
The woman filed the case as a Jane Doe, but on Thursday, the judge ruled that because the incident happened in a public place and that there was "no allegations concerning sexual activity or other sensitive or private conduct that courts have recognized as exceptional," she would have to refile her claims using her real name. Depp's lawyers have identified the woman as Robin Eckert.
Judge Johnson also dismissed certain employment claims against Depp as the plaintiff had "not alleged that that Depp was responsible for hiring or retaining the security guards in question."
Further, the judge threw out a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress because Depp has made an adequate showing that he didn't have any prior relationship with the woman and owed her no duty.
Depp couldn't escape a claim of discriminatory practices in public accommodations because at least for now, the woman's complaint that Depp's actions were “motivated by bias ... hatred and prejudice" were sufficient to survive a demurrer. The defendants are also facing other claims including assault and battery.
Live Nation attempted to escape all claims in the case on the ground that the allegations concerning its involvement and liability were uncertain, but the judge points to the fact that Live Nation employees were alleged to be involved, so the concert giant doesn't get a pass out of the dispute.
However, the defendants, being represented by Martin Singer at Lavely & Singer and Michael Schonbuch at Daniels Fine, scored the biggest coup by getting the judge to throw out punitive damages because the plaintiff hasn't shown the altercation happened with advance knowledge, authorization or ratification of an employee’s conduct. The woman has 20 days to amend her complaint but she's going to need to be more specific in her allegations if she has any hope of recovering significant damages.
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