Celebrity Justice - The FindLaw Celebrities and The Law Blog


When John Oliver committed 24 minutes of last week's Last Week Tonight episode to the coal industry in general and Murray Energy Corporation CEO Robert E. Murray in particular, he knew he was courting a lawsuit. "I'm going to need to be careful here," Oliver began, "because when we contacted Murray Energy for this piece, they sent us a letter instructing us to 'cease and desist from any effort to defame, harass, or otherwise injure Mr. Murray or Murray Energy,' and telling us that 'failure to do so will result in immediate litigation.'"

Oliver also followed up his rant by addressing Murray personally, saying, "I know you're probably going to sue me over this. But, you know what? I stand by everything I said." So it's little surprise then, that Murray Energy sued HBO and Oliver for defamation over what they call a "false and malicious broadcast." Instead, the surprise will be if the suit ever makes it to trial.

Bill Cosby's first criminal trial on sexual assault charges ended last week in a mistrial. Cosby was not acquitted, but a "hopelessly deadlocked" jury could not reach a verdict. While speculation on why the jury couldn't come to consensus on Cosby's guilt ranged from pretrial rulings on evidence to jury instructions from the judge -- all while taking Cosby's fame and the litany of assault allegations into account -- many are wondering what happens next in the case.

Here's a look at some of those possibilities.

Producers Steve Stabler and Brad Krevoy thought they had first dibs on any sequel to the 1994 Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels classic Dumb and Dumber. Imagine their surprise when Dumb and Dumber To hit theaters in 2014 (not to mention the forgettable prequel, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd in 2003).

So Stabler and Krevoy did what any self-respecting, aggrieved movie producers would do: they lawyered up. The producers are suing New Line Cinema for $1 million for breach of contract.

While everyone knows the Tin Man from the 'Wizard of Oz' needed a heart, many will be surprised to learn that the Tin Man from Upstate New York needs a drunk driving lawyer. Unfortunately, information regarding the Tin Man's recent arrest is scant, so the upstate Tin Man may have already had a lawyer all along.

The actor that plays the iconic Tin Man character at the Yellow Brick Road Casino, in Chittenango, New York, Nicholas Sherman, 31, was arrested for DWI while still in full make-up. Fortunately, for those of us on the internet, we get to delight in his full makeup mugshot, and hopefully take away a couple valuable legal lessons.

While some people only felt robbed of the price of admission and 3 hours and 14 minutes of their life after watching the 1997 film Titanic, a Florida man recently filed a lawsuit claiming James Cameron stole his family's story for the film. Stephen Cummings is seeking $300 million as well as a 1 percent ongoing royalty as a result of the alleged theft.

According to sources, Cummings is claiming that the story of Jack Dawson and Rose Bukater mirrors the story of his two relatives, a husband and wife couple aboard the Titanic. When the real ship sank, only the wife escaped. The actual tale, which Cummings was known to tell to friends, has other similarities to the one told in the movie.

The rightful heirs to estate of the late artist, Prince, have finally been identified by a Minnesota probate court over a year after his death. However, before they can collect, the rightful heirs are required to wait an additional year for appeals by those who were rejected as heirs. This means that additional heirs could potentially be named, though it is not expected.

While it is not unusual for celebrity deaths to result in multiple claims to the deceased's estate, Prince's death resulted in over 40 different claims. Many of which, such as the one from an incarcerated fellow in Colorado, were disproved using DNA tests. Last week, the judge ruled that Prince's six siblings will split the $200 million estate.

A recent decision in the civil case against Conan O'Brien is no laughing matter for the late night host. Writer Alex Kaseberg filed suit in 2015 over a series of jokes that he claims were stolen from his blog and Twitter feed. The federal judge hearing the copyright infringement claims ruled that three of the five allegedly infringing jokes can proceed to trial.

Kaseberg, who writes a comedy blog, alleged that Conan O'Brien, as well as others, stole and published his jokes. The jokes alleged to have been stolen were written about current events, and though none were stolen word for word, the similarities are obvious.

Warner Brothers, the makers of the 2016 comedy War Dogs, have been hauled into a Florida federal court by the very person the film is based on. The subject of the film, Efraim Diveroli, is a convicted arms dealer who is currently incarcerated. Diveroli is asserting that the film was advertised as being a true story, his true story, and does not actually accurately depict the true story.

While the case is still relatively new, Diveroli has cleared the first hurdle in bringing his claim and survived a motion to dismiss. At this stage, if Warner does not settle, they will actually have to respond to the factual allegations in court (though that could take years to play out). Diveroli is seeking to hold Warner liable for his financial losses, as well as for misleading the public.

Last week, an arrest was finally made in the 2015 shooting of Darrell Alston, better known to his fans as "Nazty." Police cited the on-going beef between Nazty and Kevron Evans, aka Young Moose, as the motivation for the shooting. However, Young Moose has not been implicated in any other way.

Police arrested Antonio Melvin for the murder of Alston, who is a friend of Young Moose and has appeared in the rapper's music videos. Police have linked the murder of Alston to the feud between the rappers due to so-called"diss tracks" that each released attacking the other with biting lyrics.

The trustees of Elizabeth Taylor's estate have filed a lawsuit against Christie's due to a couple disputes over some high priced auction items. The late Taylor's jewelry collection was acclaimed as legendary. The actress, businesswoman, and fragrance mogul, amassed a fortune in jewels throughout her life, a treasure trove that sold for over $150 million after her death.

The primary issue involves a $9 million diamond that was rumored to have been owned by a Mughal emperor from the 1600s (but was not listed as such by Christie's). In addition to this rumored piece, another $3 million Bulgari ring is also at issue.