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Assumption of Risk

You don't tug on Superman's cape and you don't mess with celebrities.

Really don't.

Assumption of risk is a pretty good defense to suits against celebrities.

In case you missed them, we've had a couple of pretty good examples lately.

The most obvious is the suit against Gene Simmons by a couple who say they approached him - but didn't get too close - at a mall in Orange County.

Obviously, they recognized the guy. They didn't confuse him with the Dalai Lama.

One of the plaintiffs then "simply asked" Simmons "what do you think about monogamy."

They wanted marital advice from Gene Simmons? (If you're fortunate enough not to know who this is, don't complain.)

At this point, at least according to the lawsuit, Simmons grabbed the guy by the throat, head-butted him, and then took his video camera. The suit doesn't say anything about the plaintiff filming anyone, but one can imagine.

Still, maybe - maybe - these people shouldn't have expected to be attacked. What came next, again according to the complaint, is a little weirder.

The wife, having seen this large, angry rock star attack her husband and swipe his camera, allegedly chased the rock star to ask for the camera back. Should she be shocked when the guy grabs her by the throat too?

If it's not assumption of risk, it ought to be contributory negligence.

Celebrity assumption of risk example No. 2: Yet another Nicolas Cage suit.

If you've been paying attention - and there's no reason why you should be - you'll recall that Cage and his former business manager have been trading lawsuits over who was responsible for the actor going broke.

Now we have a suit against both of them by something called Red Curb Investments which says it loaned a Cage holding company $3.5 million after being "assured that Cage had substantial assets consisting of high-end residential property, yachts, airplanes, antiques, custom automobiles, jewelry, furs, and other valuable assets sufficient to assure repayment of the contemplated loan."

Um, OK. So if he's got all this stuff, why does he need $3.5 million?

Never loan money to anyone who doesn't seem to need it.

Celebrity assumption of risk example No. 3: This one is so obvious, I was tempted not to mention it. A woman who worked for a long time for Hugh Hefner and Playboy has sued, claiming sex and age discrimination. I'm not sure that even qualifies for irony.

Still, if you read the complaint closely (and you know I did), there are some odd aspects to this story. For one, the 47-year-old woman, the "guest relations coordinator" at the Playboy Mansion, allegedly was replaced by a 33-year-old woman.

There were no 20-year-olds available?

As a purely intellectual exercise, you may now speculate on what sort of "guest relations" may be coordinated at the Playboy Mansion.

And think about this: Hugh Hefner is a skinny 83-year-old in pajamas.

Said the suit: "Defendants wanted to promote a younger image for Playboy Mansion...."

It may be a trifle too late for that.

But I do have a suggestion for Hef: convert the Mansion into a rest home.

And then buy a bunch of tight-fitting nursie uniforms for the 20-year-old attendants.

Old rich guys will pay a fortune to get in.

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