Thursday, August 2, 2007
Accused ‘Celebrity Stalker’ Wins Judgment Against Store
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A man who accused employees of a Melrose Ave. boutique of subjecting him to false arrest and ridicule when he patronized the store on the day that Ben Affleck and his then-fiancée Jennifer Lopez were shopping there has been awarded $50,000, a spokesperson said yesterday.
Attorney Baird Brown, who represented Michael Buchanan, did not return a MetNews call for comment. But the spokesperson said the judgment had been entered against Maxfield Enterprises, Inc. and its security company Exclusive Protection after a Los Angeles Superior Court jury found both defendants liable.
The case had previously been dismissed, but was reinstated in 2005 when Div. Eight of this district’s Court of Appeal said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Morris B. Jones—since retired—erred in sustaining a demurrer based on the litigation or “official proceedings” privilege.
The appeals court held that Civil Code Sec. 47, which bars suit based on a “publication or broadcast” made in a legislative, judicial, or other official proceeding, does not protect “noncommunicative conduct” such as subjecting someone to arrest or causing a person to be shown in handcuffs in front of the media.
Buchanan, a retailer store manager himself at the time, claimed he was shopping at Maxfield’s “high-end fashion clothing” store in December 2002. He said he entered the store not knowing that Affleck and Lopez were shopping there.
Buchanan said the store manager asked him to leave but would not give him a reason, and that the head of security, Michael Newson, asked sheriff’s deputies—who were on hand because of the presence of Affleck and Lopez—to remove him.
The Sheriff’s Department incident report said management wanted Buchanan arrested after he became “enraged,” that the head of security made a citizen’s arrest after deputies told him that was the only way it could be done, and that the deputies then handcuffed Buchanan and took him out to the parking lot, accompanied by Newson and store manager Jacqueline Sassoon.
The lot, Buchanan maintained, was “thronged” with media, and the restrained Buchanan was led “straight into the media circus” and “paraded around the store parking lot” before Sassoon told the deputies that she did not want Buchanan arrested after all. He was then released.
Buchanan cited media reports, including an US magazine piece headlined “J. Lo & Ben’s Shopping Scare,” accusing him of stalking the two celebrities.
Buchanan now lives in Germany, where he works as a writer for an advertising agency, the spokesperson said.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company