Lane Garrison’s PSA Leads to TMZ Libel Suit

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – One of the surviving teens in actor Lane Garrison’s fatal 2006 drunk-driving crash has sued celebrity gossip blog TMZ.com in Superior Court, claiming it published articles that misidentified crash scenes in a public service announcement as a re-enactment of the Dec. 2 crash.




     Michelle Ohana was a 15-year-old passenger when the former “Prison Break” star drove his Land Rover into a tree, killing a Beverly Hills High School student and injuring Ohana and a friend. Ohana claims TMZ inaccurately described the PSA Garrison filmed after the fatal crash as a re-enactment.
     Ohana claims TMZ and parent company AOL refused to retract two stories that referred to the PSA crash scenes as a purported re-enactment.
     Ohana had been riding in the back seat of Garrison’s SUV, while Chen Sagi, another 15-year-old girl, rode shotgun. The crash injured both teens and killed 17-year-old Vahag Setian.
     Garrison, who was 26 at the time of the crash, was reportedly on his way to buy more alcohol for his passengers’ high-school party when he drove off the road, according to media reports. Police measured Garrison’s blood alcohol content at 0.2, and he tested positive for cocaine.
     Garrison filmed the PSA in July 2007, three months before his sentencing hearing. In the announcement, a tearful Garrison tells the audience, “Just don’t drink and drive. It’s just not worth it. I know because it happened to me.” The background shows footage of drunken teens climbing into a car before ending up in a wreck. “My boyfriend is dead,” a teen screams near the end.
     During court proceedings, Setian’s father called the PSA “a self-serving statement made by Mr. Garrison to stay out of jail,” CBS reported.
     Garrison was convicted of vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence and providing alcohol to minors. He is serving a 40-month prison sentence, which is about half the maximum sentence for his crimes.
     Ohana is represented by Gerald Laderman.

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