TIME celebrities

Terrence Howard Sued by Ex-Wife for Assault and Defamation

Terence Howard at the Monte Carlo TV Festival in Monte-Carlo, Monaco on June 16, 2015.
Pascal Le Segretain—Getty Images Terence Howard at the Monte Carlo TV Festival in Monte-Carlo, Monaco on June 16, 2015.

The complaint filed states the 'Empire' actor punched, kicked and strangled his ex-wife

Terrence Howard’s ex-wife filed suit against the actor Tuesday claiming he assaulted her in 2013.

In the civil complaint filed in Los Angeles, Michelle Howard claims the alleged assault took place while they were staying in a rental house in Costa Rica.

The complaint describes that on the evening of July 29, 2013, Howard “followed Plaintiff into the restroom of the rental house and punched her on the left side of her face. Defendant also grabbed Plaintiff by her neck and pushed her against the bathroom wall and strangled her for several seconds,” states the complaint. The filing continues he “grabbed her neck again and pinned her against the shower glass and her head hit the wall” when she tried to flee the room, leading the actor’s son-in-law Billy to intervene.

“While Billy tried to pry Defendant’s hands from Plaintiff’s neck, Defendant whispered to Plaintiff, ‘Remember what I told you in Bora Bora? That is what I’m gonna do,’ referring to a prior instance where Defendant told Plaintiff that her body would never leave the island,” states the complaint. “Plaintiff interpreted the reference to mean that Defendant was going to kill her.”

Later on the evening of July 29, claims Michelle, he charged at her and she pepper-sprayed him in the face. “Defendant continued swinging his arms and caused Plaintiff to fall down. While Plaintiff was on the ground, Defendant repeatedly mule-kicked Plaintiff in the head and shoulders,” states the complaint.

She claims assault and battery, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. In the same complaint, she claims he defamed her by “mak[ing] false accusations disseminated to the public through the media that Plaintiff had made death threats and other threats against Defendant and his family through various social media accounts.”

She doesn’t specify damages.

This is not the first time the Empire star has been accused of spousal abuse. He was arrested in 2001 on charges of assaulting his then-wife Lori McCommas, and in Michelle’s 2011 divorce papers she claimed he repeatedly threatened and hit her throughout their marriage. In 2013, she received a restraining order against him on claims including the allegations regarding the Costa Rica trip in the Tuesday complaint.

Howard and executives for Fox, which airs Empire, were questioned about the accusations at the Television Critics Association’s winter tour in January. Fox TV group chairs Dana Walden and Gary Newman claimed they weren’t aware of the accusations until December 2014, when they were already in business with him. “A lot of the things I did were the product of not knowing how to deal with frustration, not knowing who Terrence Howard is,” said the actor. “I’ve grown so much from anything that’s happened in the past.”

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Howard’s reps for comment.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter

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TIME Television

Lawsuit Claims Conan O’Brien Stole Man’s Jokes From Twitter

The new lawsuit comes amid some focus on joke theft on Twitter

A San Diego man has filed a lawsuit against Conan O’Brien, TBS and others on the comedian’s team for allegedly violating copyright on four jokes.

According to a complaint filed on July 22 in California federal court by Robert Kaseberg, the jokes were posted on a personal blog and on Twitter before making it into O’Brien’s late night show monologue.

Kaseberg says he published the first joke in January 14, writing, “A Delta flight this week took off from Cleveland to New York with just two passengers. And they fought over control of the armrest the entire flight.”

That same day, O’Brien made a similar joke on his show.

One of the other jokes dealt with Tom Brady and the other with Caitlyn Jenner. The fourth joke was about the Washington Monument.

“The Washington Monument is ten inches shorter than previously thought,” Kaseberg tweeted. “You know the winter has been cold when a monument suffers from shrinkage.”

This allegedly formed the basis for Conan’s own joke.

“We at Conaco firmly believe there is no merit to this lawsuit,” responds the production company behind the Conan television show.

The new lawsuit comes amid some focus on joke theft on Twitter. This past week, a few jokes published on the media service were removed, apparently at the request of a freelance writer. This led to numerous articles that Twitter was taking joke theft seriously, though it’s probably nothing more than an individual submitting a simple form pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Internet service providers only give light scrutiny towards takedown requests. By expeditiously removing material that’s claimed to be a violation of copyright, services like Twitter gain an affirmative defense against copyright liability. Users who have material removed then have the opportunity of submitting a counter-notice, which typically results in restoration and provides notice to the rights holder of whom to sue if there’s still a dispute.

Tweets stolen for broadcast television obviously invoke a very different legal process. Kaseberg is demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars in actual and statutory damages. Here’s the full complaint.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter

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TIME celebrities

50 Cent to Pay $2 Million in Sex Tape Lawsuit

50 Cent in court
Jefferson Siegel—NY Daily News/Getty Images Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, appears in Manhattan Supreme Court on July 21, 2015.

50 cent was accused of invading privacy by posting a sex-tape online

(NEW YORK) — A New York City jury has found that rapper 50 Cent must pay an additional $2 million in punitive damages to a woman featured in a sex tape posted to the Internet.

The jurors’ decision Friday came two weeks after they ordered the multiplatinum-selling artist to pay $5 million to Lastonia Leviston.

Leviston’s invasion-of-privacy lawsuit argues that 50 Cent, born Curtis Jackson III, posted online a crudely narrated 13-minute sex-tape she made with a boyfriend in 2008. In the video, he taunts rival rapper Rick Ross, who isn’t featured in the video but has a child with Leviston.

After the jury’s verdict, Jackson filed for bankruptcy protection in Connecticut.

A lawyer for Leviston had urged jurors to award her $15 million. Jackson’s attorney had asked them to order he pay $700,000.

TIME Apple

Federal Judge Certifies Class Action Lawsuit Against Apple

First Apple Store In South America Opens In Rio de Janeiro
Mario Tama—Getty Images An Apple retail store.

Tech giant obligated to compensate workers

Apple retail workers were given the go-ahead in federal court in California Thursday to pursue a class action lawsuit against Apple, breathing new life into a lawsuit filed in 2013.

The ruling, from U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, concerns a lawsuit that alleges Apple should compensate store workers for the time taken to search their bags to make sure they did not steal any merchandise.

The plaintiffs, Amanda Frlekin and Dean Pelle, are seeking $5 million in lost overtime wages for the class members, which include more than 12,000 current and former Apple employees. They allege that workers were subject to twice daily checks of their personal bags by their supervisors, which not only took up a lot of time since employees often had to wait in line, but were also demeaning, since they were often performed in front of customers.

One employee, who wrote an email to CEO Tim Cook with the subject line “Fearless Feedback from Apple Retail Specialist,” wrote that managers “are required to treat ‘valued’ employees as criminals.”

Apple argued that the case was not eligible for a class action lawsuit, since not all store managers conducted the searches.

The case was previously dismissed by the same judge in 2014. That ruling followed a Supreme Court decision on a similar case. The Supreme Court had ruled against Amazon employees who sued the company’s temp agency for overtime wages earned while waiting in line for security checks.

TIME justice

Citizenfour Filmmaker Laura Poitras Is Suing the U.S. Over Years of Alleged Harassment

Director Laura Poitras arrives to attend the Chaplin award at Alice Tully Hall in New York April 27, 2015.
Eduardo Munoz—Reuters Director Laura Poitras arrives to attend the Chaplin award at Alice Tully Hall in New York April 27, 2015.

Poitras said she was "subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment" at U.S. and foreign borders

Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras filed a lawsuit Monday against the U.S. government to find out why she has been searched, questioned and subject to enhanced security screenings over the course of six years at U.S. and overseas airports.

Poitras, who won an Academy Award this year for Citizenfour, her documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, claims that between 2006 and 2012 she was detained every time she entered the U.S. for work.

After filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests last year for case files, surveillance records and documents naming or related to her, Poitras received scant response.

“I’m filing this lawsuit because the government uses the U.S. border to bypass the rule of law,” Poitras said in a statement released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy.”

The 51-year-old Boston native said she was filing the FOIA suit against the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in support of “the countless other less high-profile people who have also been subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment at the borders.”

Poitras says that during various detentions she was told by airport security agents that she had a criminal record, even though she had not, and that her name appeared on a national security threat database.

According to the suit, she also had her mobile phone, laptop, camera and notebooks seized and was once threatened with handcuffing for taking notes during her detention.

MONEY stocks

Apple Dodges $533 Million Penalty in iTunes Patent Infringement Case

Apple Said To Be In Talks To Purchase Beats Headphones Company
Andrew Burton—Getty Images

Texas-based Smartflash had accused Apple in a May 2013 lawsuit of infringing patents for accessing and storing songs, videos and games with its iTunes software.

A federal judge has thrown out a $532.9 million award against Apple Inc and ordered a new trial on damages, in a case where a jury found that the iPhone maker’s iTunes software infringed three patents owned by a Texas company.

In a decision on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap in Tyler, Texas, said jurors who on Feb. 24 awarded the damages to Smartflash LLC because of Apple’s willful infringement might have been confused by his instructions on how to properly calculate royalties.

Apple had argued that the damages were too high because jurors might have improperly considered the entire market value of the products, rather than distinguishing between patented and unpatented features.

Gilstrap said his jury instructions were legally correct but not applicable to the facts of the case. This “may have created a skewed damages horizon for the jury,” he said.

He set a new trial only on the issue of damages for Sept. 14 in Tyler, where Smartflash is based.

Apple, its law firm and Smartflash’s law firm did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Shares of Apple fell 1.8 percent to $123.43 in morning trading.

Smartflash accused Apple in a May 2013 lawsuit of infringing patents for accessing and storing songs, videos and games, enabling the Cupertino, California-based company to sell more of its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch products.

The lawsuit said Patrick Racz, a co-inventor of Smartflash’s patents, had discussed some of his ideas in 2000 with officials of a European company, including Augustin Farrugia, who later became a senior director at Apple.

Smartflash originally sought damages of $852 million.

The trial took place in the federal court for the Eastern District of Texas, a favorite for lawyers representing patent holders because of its reputation for high damages awards. Some companies generate most or all revenue through patent lawsuits.

The case is Smartflash LLC et al v. Apple Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, No. 13-00447.

TIME celebrities

Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Trial Delayed After Appeals Court Intervenes

2015 Susan G. Komen D.C. Race For The Cure
Kris Connor—WireImage/Getty Images WWE Legend Hulk Hogan attends the 2015 Susan G. Komen D.C. Race for the Cure at The National Mall on May 9, 2015 in Washington DC.

Amid a flurry of motions, a Florida appeals court orders a slowdown on a trial that was previously scheduled to begin on July 6

A Florida appeals court has halted a trial that was scheduled to begin on Monday between Hulk Hogan and Gawker Media over the publishing of the celebrity’s sex tape.

Responding to an emergency motion by Gawker on Thursday, three judges at the Florida Second District Court of Appeal ruled the trial judge had violated a rule of civil procedure by moving ahead with the trial too soon after pleadings in the case.

“Although we easily understand why [Terry] Bollea [Hogan’s real name] and the circuit court went to lengths to preserve the July 6 trial date, their efforts were futile from the outset — by the time the court entered its June 19 order scheduling the trial for July 6, the window for doing so had been closed for weeks,” states a 14-page opinion.

This is the second time that the Florida appeals court has thrown some cold water on the rulings of County Judge Pamela Campbell. Earlier in the case, an injunction order that required Gawker to remove its post was overturned as an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Nevertheless, Hogan has been allowed to move ahead on claims his privacy and publicity rights were violated through the posting of an excerpt of a 30-minute sex tape involving the professional wrestler. The judge has allowed him to amend his claims to add punitive damages. Hogan has demanded as much as $100 million.

Gawker looks to raise a defense that its post was newsworthy given discussion of a possible affair and Hogan’s own comments in the media. It’s not altogether clear how much the First Amendment will factor into the actual trial. The media company’s constitutional arguments that Hogan’s claims are precluded by free speech may have to await appellate review once a jury issues its verdict. The trial would likely examine how Gawker got the tape, what it knew about it, how it used it to its advantage, and Hogan’s injuries. More clarification about what Hogan will have to prove should come once the judge resolves jury instructions.

In the meantime, the trial will be delayed, and once it gets going, the sex tape will be aired in court. But thanks to a decision by Campbell on Wednesday, the sex tape will only be shown to the jury, judge and attorneys in the case. Over the objections of Gawker and intervening media companies, the monitor will be turned away from the public gallery in the courtroom.

No new trial date has been set yet.

This article originally appeared on HollywoodReporter.com

TIME Companies

Court Ruling Finds Apple Guilty of Fixing Book Prices

A customer is reading on an iPad at an Apple store Barcelona on May 28, 2010.
Manu Fernandez—AP A customer is reading on an iPad at an Apple store Barcelona on May 28, 2010.

The ruling ends a long-running fight

An appeals court in New York on Tuesday upheld a 2013 verdict that Apple organized an illegal conspiracy with five book publishers to raise the price of ebooks, noting that so-called horizontal price-fixing is “the supreme evil of antitrust.”

The ruling ends a long-running legal fight between Apple and the U.S. Justice Department, and paves the way for Apple to start issuing payouts to consumers in a related class-action settlement.

The high-profile case involved a scheme in which Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs invited five book publishers to change their pricing arrangements as part of a plan to promote Apple’s newly-introduced iPad in 2010. The publishers went along with the plan in order to stymie industry powerhouse Amazon—an arrangement that U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said amounted to blatant price-fixing.

The book publishers in the case–Harper Collins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Hachette and Macmillan–elected to settle before the case went to trial but Apple, adamant that it did nothing wrong, chose to fight on alone.

On Tuesday, however, the U.S. Second Circuit effectively ended Apple’s efforts, by upholding Cote’s ruling:

“Because we conclude that the district court did not err in deciding that Apple violated § 1 of the Sherman Act, and because we also conclude that the 6 district court’s injunction was lawful and consistent with preventing future anticompetitive harms, we affirm,” wrote Judge Debra Ann Livingston for a 2-1 majority. Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote a dissenting opinion.

The ruling means that Apple will soon begin disbursing payments to consumers that it agreed to last year under the terms of a conditional class action settlement. That arrangement called for Apple to pay $450 million if the Second Circuit upheld Cote’s ruling.

While Apple could technically appeal to the Supreme Court, it appears unlikely it will do so given the class action settlement arrangement. An Apple spokesperson the following statement:

“Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing and this ruling does nothing to change the facts. We are disappointed the Court does not recognize the innovation and choice the iBooks Store brought for consumers. While we want to put this behind us, the case is about principles and values. We know we did nothing wrong back in 2010 and are assessing next steps.”

The Justice Department’s case, including the appeals court ruling, is just one part of a sprawling set of court proceedings related to the ebook controversy. It resulted in the Justice Department obtaining an injunction, which governed how Apple and the publishers are allowed to interact and set prices for ebooks. But the Justice Department victory also paved the way for a joint effort by state attorneys general and class action lawyers to put the squeeze on Apple and publishers in the form of cash damages; the publishers bowed out early in settlements worth tens of millions – Apple’s decision to fight on in part explains the higher $450 million settlement.

“Gloves-off competition”

This final outcome is a bitter pill for Apple and, especially, for many in the book industry who feel it was misguided for the Justice Department to have targeted Apple, which remains a bit player in the e-book industry, even as industry giant Amazon remains dominant.

That argument, however, appears to have carried little sway with Judge Livingston who argued that Apple and the publishers could not rationalize their behavior on the grounds they were challenging Amazon:

“Plainly, competition is not served by permitting a market entrant to eliminate price competition as a condition of entry, and it is cold comfort to consumers that they gained a new ebook retailer at the expense of passing control over all ebook prices to a cartel of book publishers,” Livingston wrote.

In his dissent, Judge Jacobs argued the lower court had made a basic error of law, but characterizing Apple’s behavior as an automatic (or “per se”) antitrust violation, rather than examining the larger competitive context. He also claimed the lower court, and Livingston, failed to acknowledge that Amazon’s below-cost pricing for some books was not just intended to spur Kindle sale, but served as a tool to entrench a monopoly. The dissent also suggested his colleagues took an idealized approach to business:

“A further and pervasive error (by the district court and by my colleagues on this appeal) is the implicit assumption that competition should be genteel, lawyer designed, and fair under sporting rules, and that antitrust law is offended by gloves-off competition.”

You can read the ruling for yourself below:


This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Courts

Anesthetized Patient Accidentally Records Doctors Insulting Him During Surgery

His phone's voice recorder was inadvertently left on during the entire procedure

A Virginia man has been awarded $500,000 in medical malpractice and punitive damages by a jury after his phone’s voice recorder, accidentally left on during a procedure, captured cruel and mocking comments his doctors made about him while he was under anesthesia.

Robert Daly—Caiaimage/Getty Images

In the recording, which jurors heard as part of the three-day trial that took place in mid June, anesthesiologist Tiffany Ingham can be heard with other doctors and assistants calling the man (who remained anonymous in the case) a “wuss” and a “retard,” the Washington Post reports. “After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op, I wanted to punch you in the face,” Ingham says.

The recording also caught the doctors calling the man names, mocking his health, and planning how to avoid him after the surgery. At one point, Ingham calls the patient “annoying” and suggests that the gastroenterologist performing the surgery fake an urgent summons in order to escape a post-op discussion.

Farid Khairzada, one of the jurors in the case, told the Post that the man had asked for $1.75 million and that the $500,000 was a compromise between a juror who did not believe the man deserved to win any money and at least one who felt he should receive more.

“We finally came to a conclusion that we have to give him something, just to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Khairzada said.

[Washington Post]

TIME Retail

Ex-Employees Accuse CVS of Racially Profiling Shoppers

CVS employees looking for shoplifters were told to track Hispanic and Black shoppers

Four former CVS employees in New York claim their managers directed them to profile black and Hispanic shoppers, according to a lawsuit filed in federal district court.

The plaintiffs—Lacole Simpson, Sheree Steele, Delbert Sorhaindo and Kerth Pollack—worked as detectives in the Loss Prevention Department at CVS, tasked with preventing shoplifting at CVS stores throughout New York City.

“CVS intentionally targets and racially profiles its Black and Hispanic shoppers based on the highly offensive, discriminatory and ill-founded institutional belief that these minority customers are criminals and thieves,” reads the complaint. The detectives are represented by David Gottlieb, a partner at Wigdor LLP in New York. Three of them worked at CVS for four years, while the fourth was employed there for just a few months.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of other claims against retailers in New York for racially biased treatment of customers. Macy’s and Barneys have both settled allegations of racial profiling from customers in the past year. This case differs from those in that the suit against CVS was filed by employees, not shoppers.

According to the complaint, two managers in the Loss Prevention Department, Anthony Salvatore and Abdul Selene, asked subordinate detectives to “track and follow Black customers, even when there was no indication whatsoever that they were intending to steal.” The managers also allegedly made racist comments about minority shoppers. For example, Salvatore used racist epithets when talking about black customers and told Simpson: “These Black people are always the ones that are the thieves,” according to the complaint.

Selene is accused of telling Steele to follow only black and Hispanic shoppers, saying: “Watch the Black and Hispanic people to catch more cases,” according to the complaint.

The detectives who filed the complaint also say they experienced a “discriminatory environment” created by Salvatore, Steele and managers at CVS stores throughout New York City. Managers used racist language to describe minority employees, such as one manager who told one of the plaintiffs to “hide like a monkey” while trying to avoid detection from customers.

The detectives say they complained to Human Resources and to a CVS manager in charge of New York City’s Loss Prevention Department, but their complaints “went virtually unanswered,” according to the complaint. The complaint also alleges that the detectives were subjected to unlawful retaliation as a result of their complaints to management, including “increased scrutiny, micromanagement, and fabricated performance criticisms.” Three of the plaintiffs were forced to resign from CVS because of the strain of working in the discriminatory environment, they said in the complaint. The fourth was not allowed to return to work after an approved leave.

“CVS Health has firm nondiscrimination policies that it rigorously enforces,” CVS spokeswoman Carolyn Castel wrote in a statement, which did not address the allegations against specific CVS managers. “We serve all communities and we do not tolerate any policy or practice that discriminates against any group. We are shocked by the allegations in this Complaint and we intend to defend against them vigorously.”

Attorney David Gottlieb, who represents the detectives, wrote in an email that he expects the class action lawsuit against CVS to grow. “We expect additional employees and witnesses to come forward as well,” he wrote.

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