Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Abuemeira v. Stephens (Cal. Ct. App. - April 27, 2016)

Today's apparently Rich People's Lawsuit Day in the California Court of Appeal.

Defendants and plaintiff are neighbors in a gated community in Bell Canyon.  Here are the things to which everyone agrees:  Defendants are driving a car, plaintiff is driving a motorcycle, all inside the gated community, and the parties get into a tiff.  A big tiff.

The rest of the facts are told from very different perspectives.  Here's the defendants' version:

"[Defendants Stephens and Ekmekdjian] saw Yasser speeding on his motorcycle and followed him to obtain his license-plate number. Yasser stopped the motorcycle and gestured for them to approach. Yasser then 'lunged' at Ekmekdjian who 'shoved' Yasser in response. '[I]n rage,' Yasser called the two men 'faggots' and 'cocksuckers.' Yasser then 'jumped' Stephens, struck him, and demanded that he cease recording the incident. When Ekmekdjian intervened, Yasser struck him too. Eventually, a passerby separated the combatants."  Further, "Stephens and Ekmekdjian characterized the roadside skirmish as 'a hate crime against a homosexual couple.' . . . Stephens and Ekmekdjian displayed the video-recording to family, friends, law enforcement, and news agencies, and created an on-line petition demanding that the California Attorney General investigate the incident."

Oooh.  That sounds bad.

But here's the plaintiff's version.  That sounds bad as well:

"[Plaintiff] stated that he gestured for Stephens and Ekmekdjian to drive past him, but instead, they forced him off the roadway and blocked his passage. When Stephens left his vehicle, he began filming the encounter with his cellular telephone. He'"forced [the] phone into [Yasser's] face,' and stated, 'Say hello to the world.' Stephens and Ekmekdjian yelled and made accusations and then Ekmekdjian shoved Yasser. Stephens later filmed Daria and the two children, despite Yasser's pleas not to do so. Stephens stated: 'I can do whatever the fuck I want. . . .' A physical altercation then ensued. During the fight, Stephens and Ekmekdjian referred to Daria as a 'bitch,' and a 'cunt,' and to Yasser as a 'nigger' and an 'animal.' They also suggested or implied that Yasser was 'a terrorist.' Yasser was thrown to the ground and punched and kicked in the head. Daria and her infant received some bruises and scratches when they attempted to rescue Yasser."


You can also see from these factual recitations why Justice Gilbert drops an amusing, but informative, footnote at the beginning of the opinion that says:  "Unfortunately, this opinion contains an abundance of obscene language. Reader discretion advised; unsuitable for precocious children of reading age."

Ditto for this blog.  (Though too late now.)

One last thing.  I left one part out of the plaintiff's version of events.  Where the ellipsis is in the above quote.  Right after Stephens (allegedly) says "I can do whatever the fuck I want," the last part of that sentence is ". . . I'm a super lawyer -- do something about it."

Yep.  That's right.  Mr. Stephens is an attorney.  A partner at Sedgwick.

Loses this anti-SLAPP appeal, though.  As he did in the trial court.