A Los Angeles judge ruled Tuesday that attorneys for Jim Carrey are entitled to review evidence seized by police at his former girlfriend’s home as well as information from two of the woman’s medical providers, information they say they need to defend him against a consolidated lawsuit alleging the actor gave her prescription drugs that she used to commit suicide.
Superior Court Judge Deirdre Hill rejected claims by attorneys for Mark Burton and Brigid Sweetman that the privacy rights of Cathriona White were not entirely lost by her death.
The 30-year-old Irish citizen was found dead at her rented Sherman Oaks home in September 2015. Carrey and White, a hair and makeup artist, had dated off and on since 2012 while she was married to — but estranged from — Burton. Sweetman was White’s mother.
Attorney Raymond Boucher, on behalf of Carrey, told Hill that White attempted suicide once before and had breast surgery shortly before her death. He said it was relevant to know what prescription drugs she was using during those times in her life, as well as whether she ever contracted herpes during a prior relationship. White had accused Carrey of giving her communicable viruses.
In their court papers, Carrey’s attorneys sought from police any drug bottles, clothing, notes, computers, laptops and cell phones collected at White’s home after she died. They also subpoenaed medical records from White’s dentist, from a doctor who treated her for a nasal problem and from a hospital where she once received emergency treatment.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Ahmed Ibrahim said he believed that privacy laws barred Carrey’s attorneys from obtaining so much information from the police and argued that any ruling should be delayed until Burton opens a probate case on behalf of his wife’s estate. He also said he expected Carrey’s lawyers would object if the plaintiffs’ lawyers sought medical information from their client and that White should not be treated different because she was not a celebrity.
However, Hill said privacy considerations diminished once the various items were seized by police at White’s home.
“As far as this court can discover, no one has directly addressed the issue of whether a party can object to the discovery of information regarding a deceased non-party on the basis of decedent’s right to privacy,” Hill wrote in her eight-page ruling.
The judge also said that even if the plaintiffs’ lawyers properly objected on privacy grounds, Carrey’s attorneys were still entitled to the information. She said Carrey’s celebrity status had no bearing on her ruling.
Burton’s lawsuit was filed last Sept. 19 and Sweetman’s on Oct. 11. Both complaints, which have since been consolidated, allege the painkillers Ambien, Propranolol and Percocet were contained in prescription bottles that were found near White’s body, all of which were acquired by Carrey using the phony name Arthur King.
Carrey, now 55, used surveillance cameras at the home to keep track of White, according to her husband’s court papers. But although the actor’s assistant knew that the footage showed White last entered the home on Sept. 24, and had not left for more than a day, neither Carrey nor the assistant called police, according to the complaint.
After White’s death, Carrey engaged in a “charade” by offering to pay her funeral expenses so as to portray himself as a “grieving good guy” as opposed to “the individual who had illegally obtained and provided the drugs that killed White,” but “never paid a dime of funeral expenses,” the suit alleges.
–City News Service