Lohan's passengers hope to avoid trial
EmptyThe men who say they were unwilling passengers on Lindsay Lohan's wild ride through Santa Monica have retained a lawyer who said he hopes to resolve the case without hauling the actress into court.
Tustin attorney Randall Billington told The Associated Press on Friday he has been retained by Dante Nigro and Jakon Sutter, who say they pleaded with Lohan to stop as she raced along Pacific Coast Highway at 100 mph before dawn Tuesday. He is also representing Ronnie Blake, who says Lohan drove Nigro's SUV over his foot as she raced off with the vehicle.
"Some people think a discussion should begin with 'I'll see you in court.' I don't believe that," said Billington, adding he hoped the incident could be resolved amicably. He also expressed concern for the well-being of Lohan, who was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence and cocaine possession at the end of the ride.
"From my clients' point of view, they want to see a good outcome to that story for her," he said.
Lohan's attorney and publicist did not respond to calls and e-mails, and Santa Monica police officials declined to comment.
"At this point we have no new information to report," said Lt. Alex Padilla, a police spokesman.
Billington declined to make the three men available for an interview.
In a video interview posted on the celebrity Web site TMZ.com before they retained an attorney, the three said they crossed paths with Lohan when they saw her traveling in a car with a friend and waved to them. Nigro said the friend responded with a text message saying the 21-year-old actress was inviting them to a party.
At the party, Nigro said, he saw Lohan drinking heavily. Sutter and Blake, who weren't allowed inside, said they waited for their friend in the car.
Shortly before the chase began, Nigro said, Lohan's personal assistant got into an argument with her boyfriend and then with the actress. When Lohan told her to be quiet she announced she was quitting and left, Nigro said.
At that point, he said, Lohan snatched his keys, which were still in the ignition of his SUV, jumped into the driver's seat and gave chase. As the car accelerated, Blake said, he managed to jump out but the vehicle ran over his foot.
He was limping and walking with a cane Friday, his attorney said.
As Lohan raced after her assistant, Nigro and Sutter said, her car reached speeds of 100 mph on Pacific Coast Highway.
"So we start pleading with her, 'Can you please stop the car," Sutter said.
"She says, 'I can't get in trouble, I'm a celebrity, I can do whatever the ... I want," Nigro said.
"I was honestly terrified," Nigro added. "I really thought we were going to crash and I really thought we were going to get severely hurt or all of us were going to die."
After Lohan's assistant got away, Nigro said, the actress raced to the Santa Monica home of the woman's mother. The mother, seeing a strange car arrive as she was returning home, fled in a Cadillac Escalade and called police.
"At this point the Escalade's flying, we're flying, we're probably going 80 miles per hour in residential Santa Monica," Nigro said.
The chase ended when the woman stopped near the Santa Monica police station and Lohan was arrested.
As she spoke with police, Nigro said, Lohan tried to implicate Sutter.
"We can hear her saying, 'No, no, I wasn't driving, the black kid was driving," he said.
Sutter and Blake are black and Nigro is white.
It was the second driving arrest in two months for Lohan, who was also arrested over Memorial Day weekend after crashing her car into a curb. She was released from a rehab program earlier this month.
In separate developments Friday, Lohan's estranged parents, Michael and Dina Lohan, appeared in a New York court to fight over child-support payments and a lawyer for Lohan appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom in connection with a traffic accident the actress was involved in two years ago.
In New York, a judge chided Lohan's father for failing to make child-support payments for the actress' younger brother and sister. Michael Lohan was ordered to return to court Aug. 10 with proof he is looking for a job.
In Los Angeles, Lohan was granted her request to have a new judge hear a lawsuit brought against her by a man whose van collided with her Mercedes-Benz in 2005 as the actress was fleeing dozens of paparazzi photographers.