Hollywood Docket: Luke Wilson Wins $400,000 From Former Assistant For Identity Theft

Recent entertainment law news includes rapper The Game's defamation via Instagram and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s fight with an auctioneer.
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Luke Wilson

Luke Wilson has been granted $437,038.80 in a default judgment against his former assistant, who Wilson claimed in a March lawsuit had stolen his property and made unauthorized purchases with the actor’s credit cards.

Wilson said in the lawsuit that he and his production company hired Charles Lodi to run errands, plan travel itineraries and perform other services for Wilson in exchange for living in Wilson's guesthouse and joining him on film sets. Lodi allegedly gained access to Wilson’s personal credit cards and charged $124,262.20 in unauthorized purchases, plus took property from Wilson's home including jewelry and sporting goods.

According to the lawsuit, Wilson confronted Lodi about the theft and Lodi confessed. Wilson then allegedly fired him and had him sign a release agreement in which he would pay Wilson $75,000 by September 2014. He only had paid $15,000, states the complaint.

Wilson allegedly served Lodi with the lawsuit when it was filed but received no response, leading California federal judge Gary Klausner to grant Wilson default judgment on claims of breach of contract and conversion.

The court ordered Lodi to pay the remaining $60,000 plus 10 percent interest from the release agreement, $49,262.20 plus 10 percent interest in compensation for the unauthorized purchases and $327,786.60 in punitive damages.

Wilson might have some trouble collecting. Court documents filed for the default judgment hearing state the defendant "has absconded to Park City, Utah taking Plaintiffs' property with him."

Alex Weingarten of Venable represents Wilson, whose credits include Old School, The Royal Tenenbaums and Netflix's upcoming Adam Sandler comedy Western The Ridiculous 6.

In other entertainment law news …

— Speaking of default judgments, the Los Angeles Superior Court on June 10 entered judgment against rapper The Game for defaming his children’s former nanny. What's unusual is where the defamation happened: on Instagram, where the rapper posted he fired Karen Monroe for screaming at his children and having sex with her boyfriend while on the job. The Game never acknowledged Monroe's July 2013 lawsuit, leading the judge to order the rapper pay $200,627. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to The Game's representatives for comment.

"Ms. Monroe is pleased with the result the court issued in his matter. Although she can't un-ring the bell so as to undo the defamatory comments that The Game made about her, she can move forward and send a clear message to all of those who want to use their social media platforms to post defamatory information," her lawyer Manu Elloie tells THR.

— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's battle with auction house Julien's continues. The basketball great's business entity KAJ Lifetime Retirement Entity was ordered to pay the auctioneer $413,045 in September 2014 because Abdul-Jabbar withheld six items from a 400-piece auction of his memorabilia. Abdul-Jabbar then won his own lawsuit in November to repossess 152 items of more than $1 million in value. The auctioneer now will go to arbitration for a January 2015 lawsuit arguing Abdul-Jabbar and his companies have "engaged in a number of fraudulent transfers in order to avoid paying the [2014] arbitration award."

"Today's decision is entirely unremarkable or surprising based upon the court's tentative ruling last week, and Mr. Abdul-Jabbar confidently awaits a consolidated arbitration," Abdul-Jabbar's manager Deborah Morales tells THR. "Mr. Abdul-Jabbar has faced and bested much tougher opponents on and off the court."

— A man who accused CBS of trying to fire him because he’s African-American has claimed the network won’t pay him what it allegedly agreed in a settlement. John Haygood, an electrician, says the network offered him $291,877.38 in May to resign without filing a discrimination claim, and he since has put a deposit down on a house while living in "financial dire straits." CBS refused to pay, he says. "This is not about money but about further harming and punishing Mr. Haygood for daring to come forth to make these complaints against Defendant which is a powerful multinational media corporation,” states the filing. "Mr. Haygood has retired from CBS News. There are no legal issues pending," says a CBS News spokesperson. "The matter between the parties has been resolved amicably," confirms Haygood's lawyer Yetta Kurland.

— Jordan Cooper claimed in an unusual August case the director of a documentary in which he invested, All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State, undersold the documentary to HBO in order to secure a job with the cabler. Cooper, an Arkansas dentist, now has dismissed his claims against the director, Keith Patterson.