Bedroom Tales

     Guys who say they’re producers should come with warning labels.
     What follows is from a recent Los Angeles Superior Court complaint. See if the words “assumption of risk” pop into your mind:
     “Defendant B asked plaintiff if she was a model. Plaintiff told defendant B that she was not. Defendant B then represented to plaintiff that he could get plaintiff speaking roles on television programs….
     “Approximately one week later, defendant B asked plaintiff to come to his home. Plaintiff did go to defendant B’s home. There, defendant B told plaintiff about his endeavors, that he was a multi-millionaire….
     “The purpose of this meeting was to allegedly practice portions of the script. Defendant B took plaintiff to his bedroom.”
     Where else would you do a script reading?
     I don’t think I have to tell you what comes next.
     Now here’s your challenge: How do you defend this guy?
     Oh sure, guys with scripts in their hands shouldn’t be preying on innocent daydreaming women, but just how innocent was this plaintiff?
     If he hadn’t been talking about putting her on TV, would she have done a script reading in his bedroom?
     Isn’t it industry practice to audition in this manner?
     If the guy really had a TV show, would he be obligated to cast any woman who agreed to follow him into the bedroom? Could he sue her for leading him on just to get the part?
     Or riddle me this: wouldn’t any reasonable prudent attractive female realize he was kidding about the TV thing?
     No case is hopeless.
      
                 USE YOUR IMAGINATION. Here’s a writing tip for you lawyers out there who want to make an impression with your lawsuits: don’t spell everything out.
     Reading is a participation sport. You’ll get farther if you make your readers fill in the blanks and conjure up their own little worlds.
     There’s a classic example of this in an $87.5 million lawsuit against a group of defendants who, allegedly, looted a company called Axium International, Inc. As you might imagine, the complaint is pretty long – there was a lot of alleged looting and false reporting – but here’s my favorite paragraph:
     “Axium funds also were used to pay for a corporate apartment in Los Angeles, occupied by one Amber Smith, a ‘model and actress.’ Smith’s automobile was paid for by Axium, and defendants John Visconti and Garber issued numerous large payments to Smith, which they explained by calling her a ‘consultant’ to the company. It is unclear exactly what services were performed.”
     Mmm-hmm.
     Um, unclear to whom exactly?
     You couldn’t paint a better picture.
     This of course is going to present an interesting challenge for the defense team. How do you put Amber’s services in a positive business-related light?
     Amber’s services, of course, could be perfectly legitimate. She might have been devising marketing strategies and putting together power point presentations in that apartment. She could have been creating a relaxed setting for visiting potential Axium customers.
     Maybe a little too relaxed but effective from a business point of view.
     Or maybe, just maybe, the defense team will have to craft a better description of Amber and her lair. Something like: “Ms. Smith, a professional and expert thespian, contributed to the success of Axium by providing executives with dramatic recreations of alternative investment strategy outcomes to aid in the decision-making process.”
     It could be true. Just use your imagination.

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