A Los Angeles federal judge has refused to toss out the wrongful death lawsuit against prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey over the methamphetamine overdose death of a 26-year-old man, according to court documents obtained Thursday.
The complaint for wrongful death was filed in Los Angeles federal court by the mother of Gemmel Moore, who died at Buck’s West Hollywood home in 2017. She alleges that the political fundraiser lured her son from Houston to Los Angeles for the purpose of engaging in “commercial” sex acts.
The civil suit accuses Buck of human trafficking and engaging in “revenge porn” by making and sharing a video of his alleged “meth-fueled sexual encounters” with Moore.
U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney’s refusal on Wednesday to dismiss the case is a “huge victory” for Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, plaintiff’s attorney Hussain Turk said.
“The court generously ruled that Ms. Nixon may rewrite portions of her claims against the county so that they more clearly describe the constitutional civil rights laws that the county violated when it failed to properly investigate Gemmel Moore’s death because of his race,” Turk alleged.
“This is a victory because the court could have — and with these types of cases historically has — thrown out all of Ms. Nixon’s claims against the county without giving her a chance to revise it,” Turk alleged. “This is a victory because it means that the county, District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and Assistant Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum are all still very much on the hook for the intentional and discriminatory botched investigation of Gemmel Moore’s death.”
As a result of the ruling, a hearing originally scheduled for Monday has been taken off Carney’s calendar in downtown Los Angeles.
The case was initially filed in Superior Court but moved to federal court in May. Lacey and Hum are named as co-defendants for allegedly violating Moore’s civil rights in their refusal to prosecute Buck.
Moore was the first of two men to die at Buck’s West Hollywood apartment in less than 18 months. He was found dead of a crystal meth overdose in Buck’s home on July 27, 2017. The coroner ruled the death accidental.
On Jan. 7 of this year, a second man died of methamphetamine toxicity at Buck’s home in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue. The death of Timothy Dean, 55, of West Hollywood was also ruled accidental.
Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, has denied that his client — who allegedly was present at the location when both men died — had any involvement in either death.
Prosecutors last summer declined to file charges against Buck regarding Moore’s death, citing insufficient evidence. As for Dean’s death, the District Attorney’s Office has said that it remains under investigation.
The July 3 amended complaint alleges that Buck “regularly solicits sex from black men in exchange for temporary housing and/or monetary compensation.”
Moore’s mother said her son had been living with her in Texas, but alleged that Buck bought him a plane ticket to return to Los Angeles, which he did the day he died.
Buck has been a prominent donor to Democratic candidates and office holders. He has also been active in LGBTQ political circles and once ran for the West Hollywood City Council.
The lawsuit seeks damages against Buck on allegations of wrongful death, human trafficking, sexual battery, drug dealer liability, premises liability, negligence per se, intentional infliction of emotional distress and hate violence.
In addition to seeking general damages, the lawsuit also seeks an undetermined amount of punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.
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