Mel Gibson Escapes Settlement Payments After Ex-Girlfriend's Howard Stern Interview

Oksana Grigorieva's response to the radio host in 2013 carried domestic violence insinuations about Gibson — and an appeals court says it's enough to deny her $500,000.
Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Invision for Lionsgate/AP Images

A California appeals court has affirmed a judgment that allows Mel Gibson to withhold settlement payments to ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva over a breach of confidentiality.

The case began in 2010 when Gibson looked to establish that he was really the father of the couple's daughter. Grigorieva filed a separate lawsuit alleging that the actor had committed battery and defamation. Two years later, the couple settled with each other. She got $20,000 per month for child support and a home. He got to be declared the father of the girl. Additionally, to resolve the battery and defamation claims, Gibson was obligated to pay Grigorieva $750,000 in three installments.

After Grigorieva got the first $250,000 payment, she went on Howard Stern's show. On May 21, 2013, she thanked the radio host for his support.

"I want to thank you for saying that, because I will support you to the end," Stern responded. "I don't care what the circumstances are. You do not treat a woman that way, especially the mother of your child."

After a further exchange, Grigorieva told Stern, "You know what? You have to embrace your experience and even — it doesn't matter how painful it might be at the time, and that darker experience, learn from it."

Grigorieva also said that she planned to work with a domestic violence charity.

As a result of this interview, Gibson filed a request for an order to discharge his obligations to pay future installments under the parties' settlement agreements. Grigorieva's attorneys argued that statements referred only to "unspecified domestic abuse" and that Gibson couldn't establish a breach based on inference. The California appeals court rejects this.

"While it is true that the confidentiality clause did not require [Grigorieva] to police what other people might say about her past relationship with [Gibson], it expressly restricted her capacity to make statements 'related to' her domestic violence claims against him," states the appellate court's opinion. "Construing the 'related to' language according to its popular meaning and in the context of the larger instrument’s purpose, it is reasonable to infer that the parties intended the confidentiality clause to encompass not only express statements about [Grigorieva's] domestic violence claims against [Gibson], but also implicit assertions about those claims made through reference to what others might say. Thus, even accepting [Grigorieva's] premise that she was not required to control what others would say, nor prohibited from speaking about domestic violence generally, it still follows from the language of the confidentiality clause that she could not insinuate [Gibson] committed domestic violence on her by piggybacking on Stern's comments about what she had 'been through with [Gibson].'"

The appeals court also rejects Grigorieva's argument that the $750,000 payment was a child support obligation that couldn't be relieved without a finding concerning the daughter's best interest. The appeals court additionally upholds a $13,500 sanctions order against Grigorieva for not cooperating with Gibson's request that she authenticate a transcript of what she said on Stern's show.

Correction: The original post stated that Grigorieva was Gibson's ex-wife. The two were never married.

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