A UC Irvine medical professor suing Johnny Depp for injuries allegedly inflicted by his security guards at an Iggy Pop concert can seek punitive damages against the actor, a judge ruled Monday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson denied a motion by attorneys representing the 49-year-old Depp, the Hollywood Palladium management company and several security guard firms to only allow Robin Eckert to pursue her claims for compensatory damages.
"I think the allegations here are sufficient; whether they can be proved or not or whether they are exaggerated is a different matter," Johnson said.
Eckert, a 53-year-old mother of two, sued Depp, Palladium management company Live Nation Worldwide Inc. and the security firms April 16 in Los Angeles Superior Court. She says she went to the Iggy and the Stooges show last Dec. 1 with her husband, Eric Eckert, at the Palladium to celebrate his birthday.
Eckert, who is on leave from her medical practice and her job at UC Irvine, bought tickets to the VIP area because she is disabled, according to the suit.
Between the opening and main acts, Eckert left the VIP area and tried to return, the suit states. A series of confrontations occurred in which Depp and his entourage became confrontational with her, the suit alleges.
Depp's guards and Palladium security personnel dragged her across the floor, according to the suit.
"This case arises from a highly painful and embarrassing attack, which occurred without cause or justification on my part ...," Eckert says in a sworn declaration.
"Depp witnessed the attack, [but] despite being his security guards' direct manager, did nothing to stop the attack," according to Eckert's court papers.
Depp's lawyer, Andrew Brettler, said his client did not escalate the incidents.
"They can't prove anything except that he stood there passively," Brettler said.
Brettler said only two of the four security guards involved were protecting the actor.
The security firms being sued are Premier Group International, Damian Executive Production Inc. and Staff Pro Inc.
According to a police report of the incident attached to Depp's court papers, Eckert reported the scuffle to the LAPD by telephone, saying she could not go to the Hollywood police station because of her disability.
After the officer took the report, he received a call from Irvine police, who told him Eckert came to their station "extremely intoxicated and irate" to tell them what happened to her at the Palladium, according to the LAPD report.
The Los Angeles police officer told his Irvine counterpart that he had already taken a report and that he did not need to do anything further, according to the LAPD report.
Eckert told the LAPD officer she did not drink alcohol during the concert, according to his report.
-- City News Service