LEGAL BRIEFS Just days before authorities in the Bahamas are to issue a report on the causes of the plane crash that killed Aaliyah and eight others last August, the singer’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit naming Virgin Records, the production companies, and the charter service that owned the plane. The 10-seat plane, apparently overloaded with passengers and video gear after the shoot of the singer’s ”Rock the Boat” clip, crashed moments after takeoff, killing everone on board. In papers filed Monday in Los Angeles, Michael and Diane Haughton charge that the defendants knew that pilot Luis Morales was inexperienced, and that the twin-engine Cessna 402-B was too small, factors that ”could and would result in a crash.” The suit mirrors ones filed in February by the families two hairdressers who died in the crash, and it accompanies a third set of suits filed Monday by the survivors of two more passengers. Bahamian investigators were said to be all but ready to issue a report on the crash, waiting only for the results of toxicology tests on Morales, who had pleaded no contest to cocaine possession in a Florida court just 12 days before the accident. Virgin and the other defendants have not commented on the Haughtons’ suit, which seeks unspecified damages….
In an eyebrow-raising move, a Florida defense attorney said he hoped to subpoena in a case involving a 17-year-old youth charged with killing an autistic five-year-old boy, allegedly while imitating the pro wrestler’s moves. Fort Lauderdale teen Gorman Roberts is charged as an adult in the manslaughter case, in which Jordan Payne drowned after being pushed into a Pompano Beach canal on Feb. 10. A 10-year-old boy who was also present is being charged with culpable negligence. Another witness, a nine-year-old boy, told police that the boys had been discussing a wrestling match they’d recently watched on TV and were trying out the moves when the drowning occurred. ”My defense is not going to be that wrestling caused the little boy’s death,” said Gorman’s attorney, Ellis Rubin, at a press conference on Monday. ”But I don’t think the boys would have been near the water at all if it hadn’t been for wrestling.”
World Wrestling Entertainment responded with a statement, saying, ”It is obvious on its face that The Rock has nothing to do with this matter. This is another regrettable instance of media grandstanding by an attorney with a documented history of other frivolous claims, such as when Mr. Rubin blamed the television character Kojak when his client shot the next-door neighbor.” In a similar Fort Lauderdale case last year, a defense attorney tried to subpoena The Rock and some of his colleagues as a witness for 12-year-old Lionel Tate, charged with emulating the wrestlers in the killing of six-year-old Tiffany Eunick. The court refused to allow the subpoenas, and Tate was convicted and sentenced to life in prison….
Hong Kong screen goddess Maggie Cheung, the co-star of the ”Heroic Trio” movies (with Michelle Yeoh) and the ”Police Story” series (with Jackie Chan), is best known for last year’s romantic drama ”In the Mood For Love.” But she’s in the mood no more; she and her husband of four years are divorcing. He’s 47-year-old French director Olivier Assayas (whose ”Les Destinees” is currently playing in US theaters), whom Cheung married two years after starring in his ”Irma Vep” as herself. ”Both of us are very involved in our own work. After much discussion, we think it is unsuitable for us to live together any more,” Cheung, 37, said in a statement.
REEL DEALS Harrison Ford has been getting a lot of attention for his crusade against clear and present dangers to the environment. The Africa Rainforest Conservancy honored him last month for his environmentalism by granting him the privilege of naming a newly-discovered butterfly. (He reportedly named it after his daughter, Georgia.) He teamed with New York environmental group Riverkeepers, volunteering to use one of his helicopters to help monitor pollution in the Hudson River. (The group named him ”airborne watchdog” for his efforts.) On Monday, he was in Boston to accept an award from Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment. He was recognized for his work with the board of Conservation International with a trophy (in the form of a large marble dove) in a ceremony at the New England Aquarium, where his voice narrates the IMAX film ”Lost World: Life in the Balance.” Presenters referred to him as ”the Indiana Jones of the environment.” Hey, there’s an idea for the long-gestating fourth Indy movie: Indiana Jones and the Lost Ecosystem….