Miami — Justin Bieber has been hit with a fine for wasting the time of a lawyer representing a photographer suing him in a civil assault lawsuit, in which big damages are now sought.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel — who has a number of motions related to the case before her – today awarded $7,500 in legal fees to paparazzo attorney Mark DiCowden for his abortive journey to Los Angeles to depose Bieber back in January.
Gossip Extra reports, court records reveal DiCowden received a $4,000 check from Bieber to reimburse a plane ticket, accommodation at a hotel and meals over four days.
DiCowden represents photog Jeffrey Binion, 56, who claims Bieber, 20, ordered security to attack him outside the Hit Factory recording studio after he was spotted snapping the then 19-year-old singer in Miami on June 5, 2013.
The pop star was court-mandated to testify at a January 23 deposition in Santa Monica in the subsequent lawsuit brought by Binion but failed to show.
The reason? The “Baby” singer was arrested on suspicion of DUI on January 23 in Miami Beach during what police described as an illegal street drag race shortly after 4 am.
However, this cut no ice with Judge Zabel and the fine against Bieber was awarded.
The star later appeared at a now infamous deposition on March 6 in Miami, during which he was grilled for four and a half hours by DiCowden in a tense hearing.
DiCowden has also filed a motion asking Zabel to order Bieber to a second deposition on the basis that he was improperly prevented from questioning the star about his on-off girlfriend – Selena Gomez, by Justin’s lawyers.
Zabel is holding a hearing on June 30 as regards the request for a second deposition.
Citing a source, Gossip Extra reports Bieber bodyguard Hugo Hesny, 32 — a co-defendant in the suit — will likely have his legal fees paid by Bieber.
According to the Associated Press, DiCowden is also seeking to hike the potential damages he could get from Justin Bieber.
At the hearing, DiCowden told Judge Zabel he has documented at least 11 similar alleged assaults against photographers over two years allegedly involving Bieber and his security.
The attorney contends a punitive damage award for photographer Binion could stop future assaults against paparazzi.
“It’s not a financial fishing expedition,” DiCowden said in court, AP reports. “It is well known around the world that Justin Bieber does not like to be photographed in public.”
Judge Zabel did not immediately rule on DiCowden’s punitive damages bid.
In court, Bieber’s attorney Jared Lopez said there is no evidence that Binion was physically harmed in the alleged June incident — meaning compensatory damages could be minimal.
Lopez also said there is no evidence that Bieber told Hesny to attack Binion and quoted the singer saying in his deposition: “I don’t tell security how to do their job.”
Outside court, Roy Black, Bieber’s criminal defence attorney in his ongoing DUI case said the Binion suit was “frivolous” and intended to generate publicity.
To Local 10 he added,
“They don’t have a case for compensatory damages, let alone punitive damages, because the plaintiff has not suffered any injury.”
Meanwhile, DiCowden told Radar Online Friday, “I will be serving Selena Gomez next week.”
“She witnessed Justin Bieber attack a photographer back in 2012,” he added, referring to a case in which the actress-singer allegedly witnessed the Canadian kicking a paparazzo in a parking lot in Calabasas, Calif.
In a concurrent criminal investigation, Hesny is facing a misdemeanor battery charge in the Binion case and was also recently charged in an altercation with a photographer in Atlanta, Georgia.
Bieber is not facing criminal charges in either case.
AP notes other incidents involving Bieber’s bodyguards are alleged in Los Angeles, Hawaii, Argentina and England, according to court papers.
Bieber has pleaded not guilty to DUI and other charges and the trial starts May 5.
A charge of assault against the singer arising from an alleged attack on a limousine driver in Canada is proceeding as the equivalent of a US misdemeanor.
Bieber is also waiting to hear whether he will be charged for allegedly egging the house of his former neighbor in Calabasas related to an incident in January.
Do you think the photographer and DiCowden’s bid for big damages is just a money grab or a reasonable request?