1:03pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Anthony Pellicano Wiretap Lawsuit Settlement Finalized
AT&T is on the verge of cutting $4,000+ checks to each of the hundreds of victims of P.I. to the stars Anthony Pellicano.
More than a decade after Pellicano's activities became notorious, a class-action lawsuit filed against AT&T's Pacific Bell is being wrapped up. Last June, the parties submitted a preliminary settlement over claims that a few rogue employees at the telephone company were colluding with Pellicano, but it took many more months to finalize the terms.
Initially, there was a $2,500 cap on payments to each of the victims. After some objection by many of those victims, the cap was upped to just over $4,000. AT&T was originally scheduled to pay out a maximum of $1.5 million, but under the new arrangement, it gets a break of about $45,000 off of that amount. The victims were able to increase their payouts after cy pres money earmarked for the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology was pulled back.
Five law firms represented the class of plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and they stand to make about $660,000 as their reward.
As for who will be getting money, it will be a number of individuals that journalist Anita Busch is documented to have chatted with during the latter months of 2002, since under California law both parties must consent to a recording. That includes her regular Hollywood sources and some THR employees.
Additionally, the class of victims includes a parade of those tangentially involved in some of Pellicano's greatest hits: those who spoke on the phone between July 1999 and July 2000 with Monika Zsibrita, the model who sued Chris Rock; those who spoke on the phone between March and November of 2001 with Michael Davis Sapir, the editor who sued Tom Cruise; those who spoke on the phone between February and July of 2001 with Bo Zenga, the writer-producer who sued Brad Grey; those who spoke on the phone between April and November of 2001 with Keith Carradine, the actor who sued his ex-wife; and those who spoke on the phone between August and November of 2000 with Erin Finn, who was wiretapped at the behest of ex Hollywood Records president Bob Pfeifer.
Many of the Pellicano cases have settled or been dismissed thanks to statute of limitations. The end of the class-action lawsuit resolves yet another chapter in l'affaire Pellicano.
It's not completely over. Busch is still awaiting word on whether her lawsuit against Michael Ovitz for allegedly putting Pellicano up to no good will proceed to trial.