11:45am PT by Eriq Gardner
Sumner Redstone's Girlfriend Must Pay Former MTV Star's $190,000 Legal Bill
A California judge has declared Electric Barbarellas star Heather Naylor to be the winner of a lawsuit claiming she stole the laptop of Sumner Redstone's girlfriend.
Sydney Holland sued Naylor for $1 million, claiming the performer had stolen a computer containing "private and confidential" materials from the Beverly Park home that Holland shares with Redstone.
Naylor responded with counterclaims that Holland has wrested control of Redstone's life and had interfered with her aborted MTV series.
The dispute threatened to shed intimate details of Redstone's life, like why he fired many of his longtime household staff, whether he amended his will to add Holland as a beneficiary and inquiries of a sexual nature. But just before trial, the lawsuit was dropped.
If a settlement was executed, the parties were mum, but Holland's withdrawal of her claims against Naylor didn't quite end the affair. That's because Naylor's attorneys submitted a motion for fees under a penal code that lets the prevailing party recover them.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige thus had to wrestle with what happened in a dispute that was dismissed without explanation from the parties. In a recent ruling, he writes there was evidence that Holland's claim was "not necessarily frivolous" as, among other things, former Redstone household staffer Carlos Martinez stated he witnessed Naylor showing Redstone some of Holland's emails to others. The judge also says that Holland's claim "may have been difficult to prove" as she "points to no evidence" that Naylor accessed the laptop.
The judge adds there's support for Naylor prevailing on a "practical level" after Holland failed to respond to certain discovery, decided not to depose Naylor and her decision to remain silent when the lawsuit was dropped. The judge notes it is "significant that Plaintiff has not provided a persuasive justification for the dismissal, such as a settlement."
The judge awards $190,000 in legal fees to Naylor — which will go to her first attorney Neville Johnson at Johnson & Johnson and her more recent one, Terese Mosher Beluris at McDermott Will & Emery. The judge notes that he couldn't find any authority on whether the penal code permits an award of attorney's fees to a prevailing defendant — so it's possible this is a first.
Holland originally was represented by Marty Singer in the filing of the lawsuit. Later her case was taken over by Patricia Glaser at Glaser Weil.