Will Johnny Depp Have to Pay Punitive Damages?

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Johnny Depp has long been a Disney favorite for his roles in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Alice in Wonderland” movies. Most Disney fans are also looking forward to Disney’s movie, “The Night Stalker” due out in the future and starring Depp. But unfortunately, the news today is not about Disney movies and Johnny Depp but a lawsuit involving Depp’s security team and ultimately Johnny Depp himself.

Judge Michael Johnson in a new ruling is allowing the woman suing Johnny Dep and Live Nation to pursue punitive damages against the actor. The judge had previously denied punitive damages to Robin Eckert, an assistant clinical professor at University of California Irvine School of Medicine, though allowing her to amend her lawsuit, which she did. The judge had also previously ruled that Eckert would have to identify herself and dismissed several causes of action, including negligent infliction of emotional distress and employment claims related to the hiring of security guards in question.

What is all the commotion about? Well, Eckert anonymously sued Depp and Live Nation back in April, alleging that she was involved in an altercation at an Iggy and the Stooges concert the prior December at the Hollywood Palladium and she had been injured. In her complaint, she claims she was dragged across the VIP section and her shoes came off and clothes were disheveled. She also claims she was handcuffed and dragged through the venue, “exposing her buttocks to the other Hollywood Palladium theater patrons.”

The anonymous part was a portion of why the judge required her to amend her lawsuit and since she has, Judge Johnson has ruled that she has sufficient facts to pursue punitive damages in this case.

Johnson goes onto say that Depp’s attorneys argue that security only intended to restrain her and keep her separated from Depp so as to protect him from a “potential out-of-control fan,” but at this stage of the case, those alleged facts can’t be considered.

If the case gets to trial, Eckert will only be able to recover punitive damages in her assault and battery case if she can prove intentional misconduct or gross negligence. Johnny Depp’s attorneys have responded:

“The ruling only relates to a motion to strike the allegation,” says Marty Singer, Depp’s attorney. “There was no finding that she is entitled to punitive damages. This is a ridiculous suit against our client. After we prevail, we intend to pursue claims against the attorneys and the plaintiff for malicious prosecution.”

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