‘Julia Roberts Does Not Live Here’

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A distressed homeowner sued a Hollywood tour company, claiming it falsely told its customers Julia Roberts lives in his house, sparking “I love you Julia” graffiti, stalkers, intruders, mail theft and an assault.
     Michael Edson and his company Merlin Offshore International sued Advanced Reservations Systems, Smart Destinations, and Las Vegas International Tours Information and Reservations dba LACT on May 6 in Superior Court.
     The defendants own and operate tours of “movie star homes” but “regularly mislead their customers about the occupants of homes on the tour,” Edson says.
     He says the defendants “repeatedly” tell customers that his 9,000-square-foot home on Mulholland Drive belongs to “mega celebrity Julia Roberts.
     “Miss Roberts, however, does not, nor has she ever lived there,” the complaint states.
     Roberts, who rose to fame in “Pretty Woman” and earned an Academy Award for “Erin Brockovich,” is not a party to the lawsuit.
     Edson says the tour operators “knew or should have known (by virtue of their trade, business and occupation) that Julia Roberts has repeatedly suffered both personal injury and property damage due to intruders and stalkers at her actual residence which have necessitated her to pay for an deploy expensive and elaborate personal security precautions and measures.” (Parentheses in complaint.)
     Merlin owns and rents out the house, on long and short terms, including special events and location filming. He says he “has historically received in excess of $100,000 a month for the rental” of the house, which is assessed at more than $9 million.
     The house “is perched on top of Mulholland Drive with panoramic views of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley,” Edson says in the complaint. “The residence is set back from Mulholland Drive on a long private driveway and the entrance to the grounds are gated. It has nine bedrooms and features a six car garage, landscaped pool, Jacuzzi spa, two media rooms plus ten plasma TVs, dining room & gourmet kitchen w/pizza oven.”
     Edson says the tour company has given him repeated headaches.
     “As a result of defendants’ false statements, the Internet now contains numerous Web pages falsely reporting that Julia Roberts lives at the Mulholland residence,” the complaint states. “By way of example, a Google search of the phrase ‘Julia Roberts Mulholland’ returns a photo of the Mulholland residence as the first image.”
     Among other things, Edson says, his mail has been stolen; “I love you Julia” was twice sprayed in 3-foot-tall neon letters on a wall of the house; a trespasser climbed over the security wall and fled before police arrived; and another trespasser entered trying to meet Julia Roberts and “a physical altercation ensued between the intruder and plaintiff Edson.”
     After the intrusions, police told him to “increase security measures,” and he spent $19,000 doing so, Edson says, “to prevent further break-ins.”
     Finally, “Defendants’ tour buses repeatedly stop in front of the driveway of the Mulholland residence, blocking plaintiffs’ passage into the residence and blocking traffic along Mulholland Drive,” the complaint states. “The tour has also caused various cars and people to drive several hundred feet up the private driveway and stop in front of plaintiffs’ residence at all times of the day and night, often waking and disturbing plaintiff Edson and causing him great anxiety.”
     Edson seeks punitive damages for negligence, defamation and private and public nuisance.
     None of the parties could be reached for comment Monday.
     Edson is represented by Mayvelyn Diaz of Glendale.
     Edson employs 11 people at Merlin, which specializes in sales promotions, according to the company website.

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