A lawsuit against the photo agency and two paparazzi who allegedly filmed Heath Ledger in a hotel room where drugs were being taken claims that the late actor was also using cocaine that night.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court by a woman who was not named, alleges that two Splash News paparazzi lured Ledger up to her room at the Chateau Marmont Hotel on Jan. 29, 2006. It says they gave him cocaine and secretly filmed the actor, who also had some of his own cocaine.
The woman is listed as “Jane Doe” in the court documents for “fear of consequences and repercussions” of what would happen if the “public were made aware of her true identity,” but labels her as a People magazine freelance reporter covering a Screen Actors Guild Awards afterparty at the West Hollywood hotel.
“She doesn’t intend with this lawsuit to seek publicity,” Douglas L. Johnson, the woman’s lawyer, told The Associated Press on Friday. “If anything, she’s seeking damages for the invasion of her privacy.”
The lawsuit names Splash News, managing partner Gary Morgan, and paparazzo Eric Munn and Darren Banks, whom the lawsuit says the woman was “occasionally dating.” Her claims against them include fraud, negligence, trespassing, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among others.
The woman is suing for unspecified damages and profits from the sale of the Ledger tape because she says the defendants took control of a hotel room she paid for, used the mini bar and filmed her without her permission. She also claims her reputation has been damaged as a result of being featured in the footage, which she wants destroyed.
“She was deceived and doesn’t feel too good about it,” Johnson told the AP. “She tried to physically throw them out of the room.”
A People magazine representative confirmed the woman was freelancing for the magazine at that time and they were aware of the alleged encounter with Ledger, but there were too many questions surrounding the circumstances for People to write about it. The representative said the woman is no longer associated with the magazine and has not been since last year.
Ledger’s representative had no comment about the lawsuit. Phone calls to Splash News were not immediately returned Friday.
The lawsuit says Ledger found out he was being taped by Munn on the hotel room’s balcony and was very upset about it throughout the evening, but that the paparazzi calmed him down several times, supplied him with more cocaine and insisted the tape would be destroyed. A cocaine dealer arrived in the hotel room later in the evening, the lawsuit adds.
The woman, who the lawsuit says appears in the video with her face blurred, claims she forgot about the tape until “Entertainment Tonight” began advertising footage. After airing a preview of the video in January, “ET” and sister show “The Insider” decided against broadcasting the footage.
The video later surfaced internationally and online at the News of the World Online. In the video, Ledger said that he was “going to get serious (word bleeped) from my girlfriend” for being in the hotel room. The video also showed Ledger rolling cigarette paper and saying “I used to smoke five joints a day for 20 years.”
The 28-year-old “Brokeback Mountain” and “Dark Knight” star died Jan. 22 in his Manhattan apartment from taking six types of painkillers and sedatives. He had a 2-year-old daughter, Matilda Rose, with former girlfriend, actress Michelle Williams.