Travolta Sued Again – This Time for Libel

John Travolta and his attorney Martin Singer have been sued for libel by Robert Randolph, author of the book “You’ll Never Spa in this Town Again.” Randolph’s book was allegedly about his gay encounters with Travolta.

Randolph accuses Travolta and Singer of spreading false statements about his mental health to discredit the book. Apparently, Singer, on behalf of Travolta, had written a letter to a gossip blog about the book, presumably to prevent the blog from publishing content about it. Randolph accuses the letter of being libelous.

What is interesting about the Chicago Tribune’s coverage on this story is that the Trib describes the two sexual assault lawsuits against Travolta as being “swiftly dropped” by the accusers “after doubt was cast on the details of their alleged encounters.”

This makes it seem as though the accusers were fabricating allegations.  Usually when suits are settled, money is paid specifically in exchange for the accusers to promptly drop their lawsuits. So no determination has been made on whether Travolta sexually assaulted the accusers or not, if the suits were settled by a monetary payment.  In that case, the truth will likely never be known due to confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions that are regularly found in settlement agreements.

Kevin Costner Sued by Neighbor Over Too-Tall Hedges

With the lawsuit against Steven Baldwin freshly decided in his favor, Kevin Costner is embroiled again in another legal battle: this time, with his neighbor.

Costner’s Carpinteria, California neighbor Rick Grimm, an investment banker, has filed a lawsuit over the trees and shrubs planted by Costner to protect his privacy, which now block Grimm’s ocean view. Apparently, covenants on the properties established in 1957 prevent hedges from being grown over six (6) feet.

The neighbor is seeking $150,000 damages for loss of enjoyment and $500,000 for damages to his property value if the trees are not removed.   Grimm also wants an order compelling Costner to chop down the trees.

If Costner did violate the convenants restricting use of the land, then it will be very difficult for him to win this lawsuit.  Generally, it is hard to challenge covenants and succeed, because they are usually established by the devleopers of their property long before warring neighbors take title and ownership to their houses.

David Cassidy Lawsuit Against Sony Over Partridge Family Royalties Still Brewing

David Cassidy’s lawsuit against Sony over royalties from the Partridge Family shows no signs of slowing down.

Right now, Sony & Cassidy are arguing about whether the case should be tried to a jury, or decided by an arbitrator.

The biggest drawback to arbitration is that an arbitrator, who is not  a  judge, has total control in deciding the outcome of the cases.  Unlike a court or jury trial, arbitrations cannot be appealed.  Further, in arbitrations, under certain circumstances, the party who wins can ask for their attorneys’ fees — which is the opposite of the American justice system, which does not adopt the “loser pays” rule.

Apparently, because Cassidy once signed an agreement with Sony that included an arbitration provision, Sony is asking the court to dismiss the case and compel arbitration.  

Cassidy’s lawsuit involves his 1971 contract with Screen Gems (now Sony), for which he was supposed to get 15%  of net merchandising revenues for use of his name, image, voice, or likeness.   Cassidy’s lawsuit alleges that Sony has failed to pay him millions of dollars of royalties, and refused to allow an audit of the merchandise sales generated from the show.

The problem is often that up-and-coming entertainers, like Cassidy in 1971, are too trusting of production companies and management agencies, who often present them with complicated legal documents that are difficult to understand. Often, these companies have financial interests that are distinct from those of the actors, talent, or artists.

Individuals signing production, merchandise, or other deals should be very wary of these pitfalls and consult with talent-side lawyers to help them understand what they are signing and advocate for the their interests.  To obtain an assessment of your entertainment rights, click here for a confidential legal consultation.