Lawsuit says paparazzi gave Heath Ledger drugs

A lawsuit filed on Friday against a Hollywood photo agency says two of its paparazzi supplied actor Heath Ledger with cocaine so they could secretly videotape him snorting the drug in a hotel room two years ago. ( Reuters )

The suit says footage of the Ledger encounter, a portion of which aired briefly on two U.S. television shows days after his death in January - prompting an outcry in Hollywood - was sold to media outlets around the world, some in Britain and his native Australia.

The lawsuit claims the video has generated more than $1 million in revenues that should be forfeited under a California state law that requires paparazzi to disgorge any profits obtained through illegal activity.

Best known for his Oscar-nominated role as a conflicted gay cowboy in the 2005 movie " Brokeback Mountain," Ledger died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in his New York apartment on January 22.

The suit accuses the Los Angeles-area Splash News & Picture Agency of paying for cocaine that was allegedly used in 2006 by two of its photographers to entice Ledger, widely reported to have struggled with substance abuse, into being surreptitiously filmed using drugs.

The incident occurred on January 29, 2006, at the Chateau Marmont hotel on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, where Ledger was attending an "after-party" following his winning of the Screen Actors Guild Award for " Brokeback Mountain."

"This is bad stuff. You don't give drug addicts drugs so you can then tape them," said Douglas Johnson, an attorney for the plaintiff, who is named in the suit only as Jane Doe, a former freelance reporter for People magazine.

The suit describes her as an unwitting accomplice of the two photographers, one of whom she was dating at the time.

A person answering the telephone at Splash on Friday declined to comment or take a message, saying only, "We can't help you."

People magazine confirmed that the woman behind the suit was a freelancer for the magazine at the time but has not been associated with the publication since last year.

"We heard about an alleged encounter with Ledger, but there were too many questions surrounding the circumstances for us to write about it," People spokeswoman Sandi Shurgin Werfel said.

The grainy video, which surfaced on numerous Web sites in recent months, does not show Ledger using drugs, but he can be heard admitting to smoking marijuana in the past.

Johnson called his client a "kind of whistle-blower" in the case.

"She does not seek publicity by the filing of this lawsuit but she does want to expose the bad actions" of the picture service and its employees, he said.

The suit seeks damages for fraud and invasion of privacy, claiming the alleged scheme "damages her reputation by the inference that she somehow participated with paparazzi in the drugging and hidden taping of Mr. Ledger."

The plaintiff claims that after meeting and befriending Ledger in the hotel lounge, her date and his colleague invited the actor back to her hotel room, where they gave him a package of cocaine, and all three men began snorting the drug. The suit says Ledger also had some cocaine of his own.

One of the two photographers later left the room, went onto the balcony, and unbeknownst to the actor began shooting video footage of everyone through the window, the suit says.

Ledger ultimately realized he was he was being taped and became angry, but was promised the video would be destroyed and was persuaded to stay for several hours more after he was brought more cocaine, according to the suit.

A spokeswoman for Ledger's publicity firm declined comment on the litigation.

Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on March 6
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on March 6
Several ships and related facilities to be launched in Iranian ports
Several ships and related facilities to be launched in Iranian ports
Kazakhstan increases imports of Iran-made goods
Kazakhstan increases imports of Iran-made goods
Loading Bars
Azerbaijan records decrease in Jan. 2021 population's bank deposits
Five impressive facts about OPEC+ meeting
Total amount of transactions on Turkmen state commodity exchange for Feb. 2021
Kazakhstan to hold auctions for selection of flexible generation projects
Azerbaijan's police officers find munitions in liberated Shusha (PHOTO)
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for March 5
Reliability of Azerbaijani data center confirmed by int’l certification institute
Iran receives third batch of Sputnik V vaccine
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on March 6
Azerbaijan confirms 175 more COVID-19 recoveries
Kazakh Kazatomprom to hold additional auction on its solar energy assets
Turkmenistan considers promoting expansion of partnership opportunities within ECO
Hungary eyes increasing medicines supply to Uzbekistan
Azerbaijani PM expresses condolences to Turkish VP over helicopter crash
Azerbaijan's Minister of Economy highlights country's progress in terms of economic freedom
Australia resumes postal communication with Turkmenistan
Azerbaijan holds auction for public property facilities
Volkswagen core brand to accelerate electric vehicle shift
Kazakh airlines launch new flight to Uzbekistan
Uzbekneftegaz, Gazprombank co-op to increase hydrocarbon production
Investment in development of Chabahar Port continues
Britain starts formal countdown in 'final chapter' of Libor
Volume of food products sold in trade network of Azerbaijan’s Baku city increases
Maritime India Summit-2021 celebrates ‘Chabahar Day’
Egyptair to replace Sinai Air on Tel Aviv - Cairo route
US experts visit war-torn areas of Azerbaijan's Tartar (PHOTOS)
Three possible scenarios on economic dev't regarding COVID-19 crisis in Georgia
Kazakhstan reports increase in overall 2020 trade with Greece
Precious metal prices in Azerbaijan down
Small solar photovoltaic station launched in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent region
Kazakh National Bank shares data on money transfers via payment systems for 2020
Azerbaijan's Internet provider increases contribution to country's educational sphere
PASHA Bank talks possible development of 'neo-banks', information security in Azerbaijan
SOCAR becomes main supplier of Lithuanian gasoline to Ukraine
Azerbaijan to study underground water resources through satellite images
Kazakhstan discloses target volume of electricity generation for 2021
Fidelity Investments Inc acquires shares of Bank of Georgia
Deposits dev’t of Turkmenistan’s Uzynada field to increase oil, gas condensate production
Kazakhstan's only lowcoster launching direct flights to Turkey
Azerbaijan names amount of compensations paid to closed banks' depositors
Georgia reports 390 new COVID-19 cases for March 5
Russia documents 11,024 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours
Turkmenistan plans to drill new wells at North Goturdepe field
Public catering turnover for January 2021 in Baku drops
Kazakhstan to commission several new petrochemical plants
Kazakhstan preparing concept for further Kashagan field dev't
Uniper increases natural gas sales
Uniper sees €160 million increase in adjusted net income y-o-y
International Fund for Agricultural Development helping Georgia modernize agriculture sector
Uzkimyosanoat, Shell talk modernization of Uzbekistan’s chemical enterprises
Kazakhstan’s Almaty Power Stations JSC opens tender for electrical work services
Kazakhstan boosts trade turnover with China in 2020
President Ilham Aliyev delivers speech at congress of ruling party (PHOTO)
With OPEC+ restraint in place during April, upward pressure on prices to continue
President Aliyev sends condolences to President Erdogan regarding helicopter crash
Uzbekistan, Belarus agree on increasing permits for road transport of goods for 2021
Rosselkhoznadzor allows number of Uzbek companies to import tomatoes to Russia
Saipem to take part in green hydrogen hub creation in Italy
Kazakhstan announces 2021 oil production plans
Average monthly salary in Baku in 2020 grows
Azerbaijan shares footage from Fuzuli's Yukhary Rafadinli village (VIDEO)
US congressman Steve Cohen issues statement on Khojaly tragedy's anniversary
Kazakhstan to start partial sales of petroleum products through commodity exchanges
Turkmenistan defines tasks for "Single Window for export-import operations"
Kazakhstan to increase oil extraction volumes within OPEC+ agreement
Kazakhstan’s KazTransOil opens tender for wells servicing
Azerbaijan's Aghdam - now huge field of ruins, BBC report says (VIDEO)
Southern Gas Corridor CJSC's needs for cash in 2021 to be fully covered by proceeds from projects
Azerbaijani currency rates for March 5
Uzbek chemical production company to buy technological equipment via tender
Azerbaijani oil prices on the rise
Creator of Tukish 'Bayraktar' UAV talks General, who died in helicopter crash
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for March 5
Ceyhan terminal transships over 36 million tons of ACG oil since early 2021
Oil prices surge as OPEC+ extends output cuts into April
Uzbekistan’s fiscal policy to continue supporting economic recovery - Fitch Ratings
Azerbaijani FM extends condolences to Turkey over helicopter crash
Kazakhstan eyes to strengthen interaction with int'l financial organizations
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Ecology plans to implement projects in liberated territories
Azerbaijan records growth in Jan.2021 lending to agricultural sector
Turkmenistan's Balkan region opens tender for recreation center construction
Kazakhstan’s COVID-19 daily case count stands at 857
Turkey reports 11,322 new COVID-19 cases
Official says satisfied with results of human trial of Iranian COVID-19 vaccine
WHO Europe hopeful Covid-19 vaccines arrive in Georgia in coming weeks
Azerbaijani defense minister expresses condolences to Turkish side
China sets modest GDP growth target as economy improves
Kazakhstan may take part in restoration of Azerbaijani liberated lands
Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Tonga evacuate people over tsunami threat
6.5-magnitude quake hits Kermadec Islands region
Uzbek and Belarusian experts to exchange experience in standardization
Italy reports nearly 23,000 new COVID-19 cases as some see "third wave"
5.9-magnitude quake jolts central Greece, no injuries reported
Georgian Railway expects to refinance Eurobonds
UK records another 6,573 coronavirus cases, 242 deaths
Azerbaijan agrees to continue existing oil production cuts in April (PHOTO)
7.3-magnitude quake hits waters off New Zealand
Armenia can also benefit from regional transportation projects if behaves in normal way - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan becomes one of Eurasia's main and reliable transportation, logistics hub - President Aliyev
We invite ECO member states to benefit from “Zangazur corridor” - President of Azerbaijan
All news