Another RICO Claim Against ‘Jersey Shore’

     TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CN) – MTV Network employees assaulted a woman while a “Jersey Shore” cast member knocked her friend unconscious, the woman claims in Ocean County Court. She seeks punitive damages for assault and battery and civil RICO charges, claiming the so-called “reality show” uses “repeated violations of … assault with purposeful or knowing conduct,” violating racketeering laws to boost its ratings.

     Plaintiff J.R. sued MTV, Viacom, eight cast members and the show’s producers, 495 Productions Co.
     She claims the show “endorses the use of illegal anabolic steroids for muscle enhancement,” and showcases “frequent and random criminal violence that occurs to or with the cast / characters / participants and other members of the actual Jersey Shore community.” The resulting film is “advertised and aired for profit.”
     It’s not the first such claim against “Jersey Shore.”
     J.R. claims she was assaulted at Karma Night Club in Seaside Heights, where the show’s first season was filmed. She says she went to the club the night of Friday, Sept. 4, 2009, with three girlfriends – Kristen K, Kristen G and Jessica P – and a male friend, Stephen Izzo Jr.
     J.R. claims cast member Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi approached a man named Ralph, “who she had apparently never met before,” and “started kissing and fondling ‘Ralph’ in an overt sexual way.” Kristen G’s “female friends … advised ‘Snookie’ that ‘Ralph’ had a girlfriend, at which time Nicole ‘Snooki’, appearing to be ‘shocked’ that Ralph had a girlfriend, suddenly got up and left the area. This conduct was filmed and was aired as part of ‘Jersey Shore’ Episode 108, but was edited and presented out of context,” according to the complaint.
     While leaving the club, J.R. says, she and her friends got into a “rather harsh verbal altercation” with Snooki. She claims several bodyguards assaulted her by “pushing her to the ground,” causing her to “gash and scrape her chin on the pavement,” giving her “a large deep cut that has left a prominent and permanent visible scar” on her chin.
     She adds that when her male friend, Izzo, “verbally argued” with the bodyguards who had assaulted her, they choked him while the rest of the MTV group “walked up the block.”
     Cast member Ronnie Ortiz then “ran back 50 yards to where the bodyguards, defendants John Does 1-4 were still assaulting Izzo, at which time defendant Ronnie Ortiz violently punched Izzo in the back of the head while John Does 1-4 were still assaulting / holding Izzo, knocking Izzo out. Izzo never saw defendant Ronnie Ortiz coming and as noted Izzo was knocked out from a punchy from defendant Ronnie Ortiz while the defendants John Does 1-4 were restraining him,” according to the complaint.
     J.R. claims that Ortiz then “ran back to the MTV Group screaming in a bragging euphoria how he had knocked out plaintiffs with ‘one shot’ (referring to one punch). Much of the assault, with editing to present the facts out of context, was aired as part of ‘Jersey Shore Episode 108’ on MTV Networks.”
     MTV broadcast the edited, out-of-context assault, and even named the episode after it: “One Shot,” according to the complaint.
     J.R. says that Seaside Heights Police arrested Ortiz and charged him with aggravated assault, which charged are pending.
     In the next show, Episode 109, J.R. says, Ortiz boasted about the assault, “stating that he was not sorry that he criminally assaulted the Izzo [sic], that he was only sorry that he got caught. … Millions of dollars in advertising profits were realized by the defendants from airing this show, and in it, re-airing the criminal act they had committed upon the plaintiff.”
     J.R. cities other incidents in which “Jersey Shore” allegedly profited by broadcasting its cast’s assaults. In one case, she claims, Ortiz and Sammi Giancala assaulted two people on a boardwalk while the “director and security guards are heard to be laughing in the background.” And she claims the show “blacked out” an episode in which Snooki was punched in the face by a man who ended up losing his job as a teacher over the criminal conviction.
     J.R. seeks damages for RICO violations, assault and battery and negligence. She is represented by Eugene LaVergne of Eatontown, N.J.
     Here is Courthouse News’ July 2 story about a previous RICO claim against “Jersey Shore.”

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