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The parties involved in a dispute over whether Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street defamed former Stratton Oakmont executive Andrew Greene are quarreling over the need to depose Leonardo DiCaprio, who played Jordan Belfort in the film.
Greene alleges that the toupee-wearing character of Nicky “Rugrat” Koskoff, played by actor P.J. Byrne, hurt his reputation and damaged him by $15 million. In October, a judge dismissed the many claims including an asserted privacy intrusion, but gave Greene a small amount of wiggle room to possibly move forward. Greene still hasn’t filed an amended complaint, but as he seeks to establish that producers including Paramount Pictures, Red Granite Pictures, DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions and Sikelia Productions maliciously spread untruths about him, the parties have engaged in a limited amount of discovery.
According to court documents filed on Monday, Scorsese and screenwriter Terence Winter have been disposed. As for DiCaprio, Greene’s lawyer writes to the judge that the actor is “knowledgeable regarding significant issues in this case” and want him to face questioning regardless of his busy schedule.
“Plaintiff’s counsel has offered to travel to Los Angeles if necessary,” attorney Aaron Goldsmith writes. “However, it should be noted that Mr. DiCaprio has made headlines in the recent weeks for making trips back and forth to New York to attend events and celebrations.”
Vincent Cox, the attorney for the defendants, responds with more information about the objection to DiCaprio’s deposition. He writes in his own letter that the deposition is “unnecessary” because either Greene’s alleged depiction was part of the script (in which case, Winter could discuss) or the product of on-set improvisation (in which case, Scorsese would discuss). The lawyer notes whose deposition is not being taken.
“Plaintiff’s insistence upon taking the deposition of Mr. DiCaprio has certain earmarks of the intentional infliction of burden,” he writes. “Specifically, Plaintiff is taking the deposition of Mr. DiCaprio, who did not write the screenplay or direct the film, and has elected to not take the depositions of the actor who played Nicky ‘Rugrat‘ Koskoff, and has not taken the deposition of Jordan Belfort, the author of the underlying allegedly defamatory material upon which the film is based or of Steve Madden, the money-laundering co-conspirator of Andrew Greene.”
The argument that DiCapro’s deposition won’t add anything will likely be addressed Thursday at a status conference. The defendants are suggesting there could be a nefarious motive. “Discovery should not be used as an instrument of burden to coerce an outcome that is not based upon the merits of the case,” writes Cox.
It should also be noted that the demand for DiCaprio to talk under oath about development of the film is happening as federal authorities are reportedly investigating the source of money that Red Granite used to fund Wolf of Wall Street.
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