KNBC-TV updated 10:20 a.m. PT, Mon., Oct. 6, 2008
LOS ANGELES – Perez Hilton received nearly $87,000 Friday from Lindsay Lohan gal pal Samantha Ronson to pay his attorneys’ fees for a defamation case she filed and lost against the celebrity blogger.
By turning over a cashier’s check for $86,832, Ronson avoids a hearing that was scheduled Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, in which the club deejay would have had to answer questions about her ability to pay for Hilton’s award.
Judge Elihu M. Berle had ruled in January that Hilton was entitled to the money, but Ronson had not paid it, so the blogger filed papers for a judgment debtor examination hearing, said Hilton’s lawyer, Bryan J. Freedman.
For fear of having to appear in court, she paid off the judgment.Freedman said.
Ronson’s lawyer, David M. Bass, was not immediately available for comment. But during the January hearing, he maintained Hilton was entitled to no more than $13,400, arguing that the fees his lawyers claimed to have incurred were unreasonable.
Ronson filed suit against Hilton — whose real name is Mario Lavandeira – -and Sunset Photo and News Agency boss Jill Ishkanian in July 2007, alleging she was defamed when they reported that she might have owned cocaine found in Lohan’s car after a May 26, 2007, crash.
Sunset Photo operates CelebrityBabylon.com, which published an account about the auto accident in Beverly Hills, in which Lohan’s Mercedes-Benz crashed into a tree.
Hilton repeated the CelebrityBabylon.com account on his Web site, PerezHilton.com, in a June 1, 2007, posting that also stated Ronson had been “toxic” to Lohan and that Hilton wore a sweatshirt stating “Blame Samantha,” according to Ronson’s court papers.
Although Ronson acknowledged being with Lohan when her car crashed, she alleged the CelebrityBabylon.com and PerezHilton.com postings defamed her by stating she planted drugs in the starlet’s car and set her up by tipping off press photographers hoping to shoot the actress while intoxicated in exchange for money.
Last Nov. 1, Berle granted a motion by Hilton’s lawyers to throw out the portion of the lawsuit involving Hilton on grounds it was frivolous and represented an infringement on his exercise of free speech.
Berle concluded that Ronson was at minimum a public figure for limited purposes, that a Web site is a public forum, and that the subject of celebrities using drugs is an item of public interest.
Ronson voluntarily injected herself into the public eye by not only appearing in public with Lohan, but in other ways that included spinning records at Jessica Simpson’s birthday party, Berle ruled.
An attorney for Ishkanian and Sunset Photo told Berle last October that her clients settled with Ronson, a sometimes hip hop singer who performed several songs in the Lohan movie “Mean Girls.”
In August 2007, Lohan reached a plea bargain concerning the May 26 traffic accident and another crash in July of that year in Santa Monica, in which police also said they found a small amount of cocaine. The 22-year-old actress was sentenced to a day in jail and ordered to complete a drug program.
Hilton also won another court victory Friday when a federal judge in Ohio entered a judgment dismissing a defamation suit by a woman who alleged he got her fired by posting her personal information on the Web.
Diane Wargo of Streetsboro, Ohio, had sent Hilton an email criticizing him and actress Angelina Jolie. After Hilton posted her name and email work address on his site, she received hostile emails in return from his fans, her suit alleged.
U.S. District Court Judge Lesley Wills dismissed the case, saying it should not have been filed in Ohio because the alleged act generating the suit took place outside the state.