A Florida judge has ruled that Justin Bieber cannot be sued for punitive damages if a civil assault case launched by a photographer goes to trial.
Justin Bieber has won a legal victory in an ongoing civil battery, assault and negligence case filed by a paparazzo against the Canadian singer and one of his bodyguards
Celebrity paparazzo Jeffrey Binion claims the 20-year-old superstar ordered his bodyguard, Hugo Hesny, to confront him physically last June.
In a motion which was heard before Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge Sarah Zabel on April 1, Binion’s attorney, Mark DiCowden, asked the Judge to allow punitive damages should Binion win the lawsuit at trial.
DiCowden filed his motion based on what he alleged were 11 other cases of alleged assaults carried out against photographers by Bieber’s bodyguards.
DiCowden argued punitive damages would deter future assaults against photographers.
However, the Judge has denied Binion’s attempt to seek damages above and beyond what would normally be awarded if Bieber loses the case.
On Wednesday, Radar Online reported Judge Zabel stated in her ruling:
“Jeffrey Binion failed to make a reasonable showing by evidence in the record or proffer that a reasonable basis for recovery of punitive damages exists in this case.”
The documents went on: “Without making such a reasonable showing, Jeffrey Binion is not permitted to seek punitive damages against Defendants Justin Bieber and Hugo Hesny in this proceeding.”
Bieber was sued by Binion over an June 5, 2013, incident outside the Hit Factory recording studio in Miami.
The paparazzo claims he was held in a “choke hold” by Hesny while his camera was stolen by bodyguards.
Binion, 56, alleges Bieber ordered Hesny to remove the memory card from the paparazzo’s camera to delete photos taken of the singer as he left the studio.
On March 6, Bieber testified in a now infamous Miami deposition in which he was grilled for four and a half hours by DiCowden about the case and wider questions. When asked what kind of instructions he gave his bodyguards, the singer replied:
“I don’t tell security how to do their job.”
Justin was criticized when clips of his deposition were leaked, for giving evasive, flippant answers, and at times pretending to fall asleep.
The singer later defended himself on Twitter saying he had a right to defend himself against what he called DiCowden’s harassment.
‘This was a big win for us because we can now focus on this one isolated incident as opposed to having the public distracted by allegations of other incidents. This will prevent the plaintiff from turning this case into the circus show that they were trying to make it,” he said in a statement.
“If the court would have allowed the plaintiff to seek punitive damages the defendant’s personal finances, which are completely irrelevant, would have been made available to the plaintiff, thus attempting to potentially extort the parties into a settlement as opposed to winning on the merits.”
In the April 1 hearing to hear the motion for the damages hike, Bieber’s attorney, Jared Lopez, stated there was no evidence that Binion was physically harmed in the alleged June incident.
Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, has also been subpoenaed to a deposition in the Binion lawsuit. He is set to be deposed in a videotaped court on May 15 in law offices located in Los Angeles.
DiCowden has also declared his intention to subpoena Justin’s on-off girlfriend, actress and singer Selena Gomez.