9 celebrity lawsuits in the news

Zooey Deschanel's shoes, Darth Vader's contract beef and seven more celebrity lawsuits making headlines

Beachfront Brawl

Kevin Costner barely had time to celebrate his courtroom victory over Stephen Baldwin before being slammed with another lawsuit. This time, Costner’s adversary is his neighbor Charles “Rick” Grimm, who says that the value of his Santa Barbara beach house dropped by half when Costner planted hedges and trees blocking Grimm’s ocean view.

According to the suit, when Grimm confronted Costner about the oversized foliage the actor “would not 'back down' on maintaining the hedge and palm trees as [Grimm] prefers and that [Costner] will do everything in his power to secure his privacy."

Grimm says that Costner’s actions violate a 1957 contract that forbids homeowners from putting up walls, fences or hedges that are more than six feet high. He wants the actor to prune back his hedges and pony up $150,000 in compensation. If Costner refuses, Grimm wants $500,000 in damages.

© Christopher Johnson

Manhattan Melee

The hits just keep on coming for Tony Parker. Earlier this summer, his San Antonio Spurs fell in six games to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and now he’s embroiled in a multimillion dollar lawsuit involving a star-studded nightclub brawl.

On June 14, a scuffle broke out at New York’s W.i.P. nightclub, when an argument between singers Chris Brown and Drake allegedly turned violent. Parker reportedly suffered a corneal laceration during the melee, when a piece of broken glass struck him in the eye, briefly putting his Olympic hopes in jeopardy.

Parker’s suit argues that the club was negligent for "sitting persons known to be hostile to each other at the same time in order to generate funds for themselves." He is seeking $20 million in damages.

© Amelia Beamish

Litigious Lawyers

It looks like Kohl’s Department Stores needs some new lawyers. Its former law firm, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, is suing the retail chain for $628,000 in legal fees for a case involving actress Zooey Deschanel.

The “New Girl” star sued shoemaker Steve Madden in December 2010, saying that it owed her $2 million in royalties for its line of “Zooey Shoes” (which were sold at Kohl’s.) Deschanel originally demanded $1.7 million to resolve the suit, but eventually settled for just $100,000.

The firm says that it deserves more than $600,000 for its work tracking down experts and resolving discovery conflicts, but Kohl’s argues that the fees are too high compared to the case’s value. Complicating the matter is the fact that the two parties never signed a written contract, although Sheppard Mullins says Kohl’s orally agreed to its fees.

© Gage Skidmore

Palin’s Problems

Apparently Bristol Palin’s new reality show, “Life’s a Tripp,” angered more than just the TV critics. The show, which centers on the teen’s life as a single mother in Los Angeles, already has spawned two lawsuits in the weeks following its premiere.

The first comes courtesy of Kyle Massey, one-time Disney star and Palin’s competitor on “Dancing with the Stars.” Massey claims that he and his brother Chris came up with the original concept for the show, and that they were originally slated to appear as co-stars until producer David McKenzie stole their idea. The brothers sued McKenzie, seeking damages and an injunction against the show.

In a separate suit, a man who was caught on camera yelling obscenities at Palin is suing her and A&E Television Networks for defamation and invasion of privacy. Stephen Hanks and Palin engaged in a verbal spat outside an L.A. bar, in which Hanks called Sarah Palin a “whore” and Bristol responded by asking if Hanks was “a homosexual.” The fight aired in the series’ pilot episode, but Hanks says he never gave the show permission to use the footage.

© Steve Rogers

Costly Cameo

Jesse Eisenberg gets top billing on the DVD cover for the 2010 film “Camp Hell”; in fact, he’s the only actor whose name or photo appears on the case. But viewers expecting a star turn from the “Social Network” star are sure to be disappointed, as Eisenberg appears in the film for less than five minutes.

The actor reportedly agreed to appear in the horror movie “as a favor to his friends” and for minimal compensation, only to find himself billed as its star. Last November, Eisenberg sued Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment for misappropriation of right of publicity, arguing that they “are now attempting to fraudulently deceive and mislead the public and reap millions of dollars by capitalizing on Eisenberg’s newfound fame and popularity.”

The defendants tried to have the lawsuit thrown out on free speech grounds, but a judge recently ruled that the case could proceed to trial. Eisenberg is seeking $3 million in damages, more than the budget of the film.

© David Shankbone

Angry Ashton

Few people like the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), but not many people channel their distaste into a lawsuit. That’s just what Ashton Kutcher did, though, when the DMV reportedly backed out of a reality television deal with his production company, Katalyst Media Inc.

Katalyst claims that the agency agreed to let the company "capture the variously humorous, emotional, dramatic, moving, humanizing and entertaining situations that arise on a daily basis at DMV's offices.”

The DMV reportedly inked a contract with Katalyst, only to decide six weeks later that the series was not “in its best interests.” Katalyst, which reportedly lost money on pre-production costs, has now filed a $1.44 million lawsuit against the agency.

© Anirudh Koul

Overtime Omission

Celine Dion’s Las Vegas show grossed more than $20 million last year, but one former employee says the singer isn’t spreading the wealth. Keith Sturtevant, who was a “warehouse manager” for Dion and her husband Rene Angelil, says that the couple refused to pay him overtime, even though he regularly worked more than 40 hours a week performing tasks such as “fixing ice makers, cleaning the house shutters, building stages” and “repairing kitchen items.”

Sturtevant claims that Dion designated him and other workers as exempt employees so that she could avoid paying federal taxes and workers compensation. He is suing for back overtime wages.

© Josh Jensen

Naughty Network

USA Network is going up against the dark side in a legal battle with Darth Vader himself. Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker in the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy, is suing the network for allegedly stealing one of his television show concepts.

Forest Park, the production company run by Christensen and his brother, developed a series treatment for a show entitled “Housecall,” which features a doctor who begins attending to rich patients in Malibu after losing his job for treating patients without insurance.

Christensen says his company pitched the series to a USA executive, who never picked up the show. But, several years later, the network came out with “Royal Pains,” a show with a similar storyline. Christiansen is now suing for breach of implied contract, saying that USA stole his idea. Last year, a federal judge tossed the lawsuit—ruling that the series concept was unprotectable—but last month, the 2nd Circuit reinstated the case.

© David Shankbone

Loony Litigation

The Kardashian clan is fighting so many lawsuits that it’s hard to keep them all straight. But the latest charges against the family are unforgettable.

Jonathan Lee Riches, a former inmate who has reportedly filed more than 2,600 lawsuits in federal court, sought a temporary restraining order against the family for allegedly attacking him at Disneyworld.

According to the complaint, the Kardashians Tasered him on the park’s Tower of Terror ride, and Khloe Kardashian dressed up in a sumo suit and tackled him. Last month, Judge Roy Dalton dismissed Riches’ suit, writing that "while it may be plausible that more than a few people would be terrorized if they found themselves trapped in the Tower of Terror ride with the Kardashians, the court concludes the motion is frivolous.”

In a separate complaint, Riches sued the Kardashians for their alleged involvement in a terrorist training camp. As Riches recounts in the suit: “I was in West Virginia, deep in the hills and I stumbled upon the defendants who were all at an Al-Qaeda secret training camp.” Riches goes on to say that the family burned the U.S. flag and stomped on an image of Barack Obama before Kim’s boyfriend, rapper Kanye West, performed a concert for the terrorists.

Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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