Woman revises lawsuit over Heath Ledger tape

By: AP
By: AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A magazine freelancer suing two photographers and a paparazzi agency over a video that purportedly shows Heath Ledger doing drugs has amended her lawsuit to downplay her role as a reporter. The revisions come less than a month after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge frequently cited her profession in dismissing most of the woman's claims.

The lawsuit focuses on a tape that was allegedly made hours after the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards, which Ledger had attended as a nominee in a best actor category for his role in "Brokeback Mountain."

The revised suit is seeking unspecified damages, destruction of the video and the profits of the tape's sale. The new complaint alleges fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and six other claims; the original lawsuit featured 12 claims, 11 of which were dismissed.

Judge John S. Wiley Jr. cited the woman's assignment in his reasoning for invalidating several of the initial claims. He said the woman, identified only as "Jane Doe," rented a hotel room at the Chateau Marmont as part of her job. She was on assignment for People magazine.

The amended lawsuit filed Thursday, however, states that the woman's assignment was only to observe the "Brokeback Mountain" and "Capote" after-parties at the hotel that night. The suit claims she was not authorized to conduct one-on-one interviews with any celebrities.

According to the amended suit, Ledger agreed to go back to the woman's hotel room after he was befriended at the after-party by two men who worked for Splash News & Picture Agency. The freelancer had brought one of the men to the party as her date but did not invite the other Splash employee, the lawsuit states.

The woman was "excited and almost could not believe that she was going to 'hang out' with the person who was nominated for a SAG award," the lawsuit states.

The woman did not identify herself as a reporter to Ledger, nor did the Splash News paparazzi, according to the lawsuit.

Ronald Makarem, an attorney representing the photographers and Splash News, said Friday he had not seen the revised lawsuit and declined to comment.

The existence of the tape was not revealed until after Ledger's death from an accidental prescription drug overdose earlier this year. "Entertainment Tonight" and its sister show "The Insider" scrapped plans to air the footage, but it later surfaced online.

The lawsuit states it may have generated more than $1 million in revenues.

Ledger - who has been celebrated this year for his role as the villainous Joker in "The Dark Knight" - was already an established actor when the tape was made.

The reporter's likeness is blurred on the video.

Wiley tentatively dismissed several of the lawsuit's claims on Sept. 3, saying that the woman's brief appearance on the video did not make it valuable.

The judge also sided with defense attorneys, who argued that the woman could not make many of her claims on behalf of Ledger. "The tape's valuable because of Heath Ledger, not because of Jane Doe," Wiley said.

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