E! Online (US), September 22, 2008
Keanu KOs Big Part of Paparazzo Suit
The Devil's Advocate has just courted himself a big victory.
A Los Angeles judge has thrown out the bulk of a lawsuit filed against Keanu Reeves by a paparazzo who says he was intentionally run over by the Porsche-driving A-lister.
Siding with a defense motion, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth A. Grimes ruled there was insufficient evidence showing Reeves meant to injure photographer Alison Silva while pulling out of a parking spot last year. (View the ruling.)
"There was no evidence of the slightest contact or the slightest touching," Grimes said at today's court hearing. "It didn't happen. Plainly Mr. Reeves intended to drive away. That intent is not unlawful."
That means Silva will not be able to seek damages for his claims of assault, battery and punitive damages. However, he will still be allowed to pursue negligence claims against Reeves at a trial set for next month.
The photog filed in November, asserting he was unable to work, had incurred costly medical and "incidental" expenses, and that he lost out on numerous jobs as the result of the run-in.
Grimes, though, said there's an indication Reeves was merely driving away in his black Porsche 911 Cabrio when Silva, who was walking backward trying to get the shot, tripped over his own feet.
The judge said if anything, The Matrix star, who had been visiting his sister at a health clinic and didn't want to be photographed, appeared to be a victim of an assault, because the paparazzo put his hands on the actor's vehicle.
Reeves' camp was pleased with Grimes' decision.
"These were allegations for which there was no factual support," the actor's attorney, Mark Williams, told E! News. "With regard to the future, the issue for the court and for a jury is whether or not Mr. Reeves is liable in the claim of negligence. We're confident once the jury has had an opportunity to view all the evidence, they will render a verdict in favor of Mr. Reeves."
Reeves' team did not challenge the negligence claim, and Grimes let stand that cause of action.
Silva's lawyer, Joseph Farzam, argued that today's opinion did not change the fact that his client can still win the same amount of damages if he can show Reeves was negligent, a claim requiring a lower threshold of proof.
"If a jury finds that Mr Reeves was not being careful in driving his car into Mr. Silva, then he'll be awarded his damages again. For us, this is not a loss by any means," the attorney said. "But I think the judge erred, if you ask my opinion. I think it was for a jury to decide what Mr. Reeves' intent was at the time. And he admitted that he did intend to drive his car forward and that is sufficient for a claim of battery."
There has been some settlement talk between the two sides, but they're running out of time. The trial on the negligence claims is scheduled to kick off Oct. 27.