Exec Loses $20M Claim in Bath Salts Saga
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A federal judge rejected a former bank and Hollywood executive's claim that a media consultant tried to discredit him as a drug addict to deflect allegations that cops had brutally beaten him.
Brian Mulligan sued Eric Rose in Federal Court in November 2013, demanding $20 million for civil rights violations.
Mulligan claimed that Rose had tried to chill his First Amendment rights by smearing him in a police labor union press release as addicted to a lawful bath salt called White Lightning, a synthetic drug which produces an effect similar to methamphetamine and cocaine.
Earlier in 2013, Mulligan, a former executive at Universal Pictures and Fox Television, had sued the city, the Los Angeles Police Protective League and its president Tyler Izen. Also sued were two LAPD officers, John Miler and James Nichols, who Mulligan claimed had beaten him on the night of May 15, 2012.
Police reports stated that when officers encountered Mulligan on a street in Eagle Rock he had been "screaming and dragging a metal trash can in the street" and was trying to open car doors. The then 52-year-old reportedly told officers he had taken marijuana and the bath salt.
Mulligan acted aggressively, formed his hands into claws, growled, and charged at the officers, according to the Los Angeles Times.
But Mulligan denied that he was under the influence of drugs, and claimed that Nichols had taken him against his will to a Highland Motel and that the officers had severely beaten him after he escaped.
Prosecutors never charged Mulligan.
The executive later claimed, however, that Rose smeared him after he filed a claim against the city in August 2012, for injuries from the alleged attack.
The story took a strange turn when it emerged that Mulligan had visited a Glendale police station only days before the alleged attack, to ask if White Lightning was legal.
On Oct. 12, 2012, Los Angeles Police Protective League posted a press release drafted by Rose that included an embedded recording of Mulligan's May 13 conversation at the police station, Mulligan said in his lawsuit against Rose.
Among other things, the union suggested in its statement that Mulligan was a "'high-powered banker,'" accused of him trying to "'shake down'" the city and urged him to apologize to Nichols and Miller, Mulligan alleged.
"Bath salts lead to delusion, and as in this case, bizarre lawsuits," Izen stated in the release. "Hopefully, now that the truth is coming out, instead of continuing to spend his money on lawyers and trying to weave a fictitious tale of abuse at the hands of the LAPD, Mulligan will seek the substance abuse treatment he so badly needs."
The statement did not sit well with Deutsche Bank, which allegedly fired Mulligan in November 2012.
In December 2013, U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner ruled in favor of the union and Izen, finding that Mulligan did not make clear that the union and its president intended to retaliate against him.
Though he entered evidence of Rose's involvement to support those claims, Mulligan urged the judge handling his second lawsuit to give him another bite of the apple.
But in an April 29 order, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson said that Mulligan had already litigated the issue in court. Wilson granted Rose's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint.
"Not only was evidence of Rose's retaliatory intent offered in Mulligan I, but this evidence was considered by Judge Klausner," Wilson wrote. "Judge Klausner characterized Rose's email to Izen stating that Mulligan's attorney will 'fold when he learns what we have' as Mulligan's strongest and most relevant evidence of retaliatory intent. Nevertheless, Judge Klausner held that it showed 'nothing more than ordinary conduct related to the normal process of litigation.'"
Since Rose had acted as an agent for the union, Klausner's "determination that Mulligan's evidence was insufficient to establish that Izen and the LAPPL [Los Angeles Police Protective League] acted with retaliatory intent by implication established that Rose also did not act with retaliatory intent," the judge wrote.
Mulligan's attorney Dan Miller said Wilson's ruling did not "reflect on the merits of the case."
"We look forward to our day in court," Miller said.
A jury found in January that Miler and Nichols did not use excessive force.