According to a lawsuit filed in June 2013 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jose Osmin Hernandez Duran alleges he tried to photograph Bieber, now 20, and the singer’s then-girlfriend Selena Gomez, as they went to the movies at The Commons in Calabasas on May 27, 2012.
Duran’s lawyers state in their court papers that Bieber “was enraged that (Duran) and other paparazzi had been photographing Bieber and … Gomez as they walked out of the mall and then as Bieber struggled to pull his huge van out of the crowded mall parking lot.”
Bieber “jumped and kicked plaintiff in the chest, punched him in the jaw and shoved him up against a parked car,” Duran’s lawyers state in their court papers.
Duran did not threaten Bieber and had a Sheriff’s Department media identification badge, according to the plaintiff’s court papers.
Although he is male, Duran’s nickname is “Bruja,” the Spanish word for witch, Duran’s lawyers state in their court papers. They argue that Judge Teresa Beaudet should preclude Bieber’s attorneys from making referring to the sobriquet during trial.
“The nickname is apparently related in some way to plaintiff’s appearance,” Duran’s lawyers state in their court papers. “There is no evidence that plaintiff practices witchcraft or anything of the sort and the nickname has no relevance to the issues to be resolved in the instant case.”
Duran was born in El Salvador and Spanish is his preferred language, the suit states.
But Bieber’s lawyers counter in their court papers that other paparazzi stated in depositions that Duran is commonly referred to as “Bruja” and that therefore the nickname is relevant. They say Duran will not be hurt by the reference to it during trial.
“The trial of this action will take place … in Los Angeles, not Salem, Mass., in the late 1600s,” Bieber’s attorneys’ court papers state. “It frankly seems silly to assume that 21st century jurors hearing the name ‘Bruja’ will jump to the conclusion that plaintiff engages in witchcraft.”
Duran’s lawyers also do not want jurors to know Bieber was not charged with any crime related to the incident with the paparazzo. They say the standard of proof is higher in a criminal case compared to the civil lawsuit at hand.
“If presented with evidence that no charges were filed, jurors might be inclined to confuse the differing burdens of proof or jump to an unwarranted conclusion of innocence,” Duran’s lawyers state in their court papers.
But Bieber’s lawyers counter in their court papers that several sheriff’s deputies are scheduled to testify on behalf of Bieber who will say that they did not see any injuries on Duran. They say it is thus important that jurors know the District Attorney’s Office did not charge the singer.
“The jury should be given the full story regarding the investigation and should not be left to speculate what happened,” according to the court papers of Bieber’s attorneys.
For their part, Bieber’s lawyers want to exclude from the evidence any reference by Duran’s lawyers to the singer’s settlement of a previous lawsuit filed by a former bodyguard who alleged he was owed back wages. They also do not want jurors to hear about other cases in which Bieber or his security team allegedly clashed with the paparazzi.
Bieber’s lawyers maintain the other lawsuits are not relevant and are based in some degree on “media reports and Internet postings” that are hearsay.
“This case should be tried based on competent evidence, not tabloid journalism,” Bieber’s lawyers state in their court papers.
Bieber’s lawyers also state in their court papers that no reference should be made to their client’s income unless the jury finds malice, which would allow Duran to seek and award of punitive damages.
A hearing on the motions is scheduled Dec. 10 and trial of Duran’s lawsuit is set for Dec. 26.
—City News Service
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