Hollywood Docket: Chris Brown's Assault Lawsuit; 'Cops' Film Backed by Lawyer

A roundup of entertainment law news, including Rolling Stone's bid to deem UVA dean Nicole Eramo a public figure.
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Chris Brown

Chris Brown is fighting to keep defamation claims out of his legal fight with ex-manager Mike G, claiming he was never served with the new version of the lawsuit.  

Mike G, who's suing under his legal name Michael Guirguis, filed a suit against Brown on June 23, claiming the rapper beat him up in a drug-fueled rage and then bragged about it.

"What Mike G assumed would be a run-of-the-mill conversation about the upcoming tour turned into Brown shutting Mike G alone into a room with him and brutally attacking him — punching him four times in the face and neck," states the complaint. "The assault was unprovoked and, regrettably, just another attack in Brown's long history of violent and abusive behavior."

That night, TMZ posted an Instagram video of Brown in which he calls Guirguis "Mr. Petty Pants" and says Guirguis only sued because Brown fired him for stealing money.

The next day, Guirguis' attorney Patty Glaser filed an amended complaint that beefed up the claims to include defamation.

Glaser argues Guirguis had not been fired, as his contract contained a provision requiring 30 days written notice of termination, and has never stolen money from Brown.

"Brown's acts were committed maliciously, oppressively, with an improper and evil motive, with knowledge of the falsity of his statements, and in conscious disregard of the rights of Mike G," Glaser writes. "Mike G already has suffered psychological and emotional injury, and pain and suffering, all of a serious and permanent nature, at the hands of Brown, and Brown's defamatory statements only add to this." 

Brown is contesting the amended complaint on the grounds that he was never served with it. While Brown was home at the time the process server claims to have delivered the documents to him personally, he says he never saw or spoke to any such person. 

Further, Brown says his home is surrounded by a security fence that requires either a code or permission from someone inside to enter and the premises are monitored by video cameras. In his declaration to the court, Brown says the video does not show a process server approaching his gate at the time the papers were purportedly delivered.

"[N]o one present at the residence with Brown was approached by anyone to serve process on Brown," states a motion to quash filed by the rapper's attorney Susan Gutierrez. "No copies of the Legal Papers were ever found at the residence or outside the front gate. And to this day, Brown has never seen, received, or reviewed the Legal Papers."

A hearing is set for Nov. 29.

In other entertainment law news:

Rolling Stone wants the court to toss University of Virginia dean Nicole Eramo's defamation lawsuit over its since-retracted article "A Rape on Campus" on the grounds that she is a public figure. Court documents indicate judge Glen E. Conrad asked for further briefing on the issue during a hearing on cross-motions for summary judgment. The distinction is an important one. If Eramo is a public official, or limited purpose public figure, in the eyes of the law, she'd have to prove Rolling Stone acted with actual malice in its reporting in order to prevail on her defamation claim, which is an exceedingly difficult task. In a brief supporting its motion for summary judgment, the magazine argues her then-role as associate dean and chair of the university's sexual misconduct board make her a public official. Rolling Stone also argues that Eramo is a limited-purpose public figure for her role in responding to the controversy surrounding UVA's response to sexual assault claims. This move comes on the heels of the magazine's win in a lawsuit brought by three UVA fraternity brothers who claimed they were defamed by the story.

— Interior Music is asking the court to rule that Searching for Sugar Man star and songwriter Sixto Rodriguez can't dodge liability for claims that he breached his exclusive songwriter agreement with Gomba Music decades ago by writing songs under a fake name for Interior. Gomba's Harry Balk sued Interior, which filed a third-party complaint alleging that Rodriguez is liable for any damages the company is ordered to pay Balk. Rodriguez moved for summary judgment on Interior’s claims that he failed to cooperate in the litigation and breached his contract by representing that his works were free and clear of any claims. The singer alleges Balk can prove Interior has known about his breach for decades and therefore its claim is barred by the statute of limitations. He also asked the court to limit any damages to those specified in his ESCA, which he says contractually limits Interior “to only withholding royalties to reimburse itself for any damages putatively owed by Rodriguez.” Interior argues what Rodriguez filed is not actually a request for summary judgment, but rather for an advisory opinion based on hypothetical facts that Balk may or may not prove.

—  Infamous law-enforcement reality series Cops is headed to the big screen — thanks, in part, to a lawyer. The film is being funded by Boies/Schiller Film Group, which was founded by attorney David Boies and Zack Schiller, the son of his law firm's co-founding partner, according to legal resource site Law.com. Schiller told the site that the film will be a comedy with a real-life feel, similar to that of the TV series, and will address current issues surrounding policing practices. Boies/Schiller's other recent films include Jane Got a Gun, Midnight Sun and The Babysitter.