A Los Angeles court judge in the United States, Holly Fuji, halted a damages action filed against singer Lady Gaga, who promised, but did not pay, a reward of US$500,000 (R$2.4 million in current values) to anyone who returned her two stolen French Bulldog dogs in 2021.
Last year, Jennifer McBride sued the singer for “breach of contract, fraud by false promise and fraud by false declaration”. He asked for US$500,000 in compensation, but did not receive it.
in a process called objection (translated as an exception to the inadmissibility of the preliminary petition, but which in other states is equivalent to a request to terminate the process), the judge ruled that compensation should not be awarded for two reasons: 1) petitioner’s claim is weakened by the “dirty hands doctrine”; 2) Compensation to the plaintiff Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga’s real name) for receiving the stolen property.
“According to the Civil Code, no one can take advantage of his own mistakes,” the judge wrote in his judgement, citing a series of examples, including:
“- The dirty hands doctrine requires that a plaintiff must act correctly in the matter for which he seeks judicial relief; a plaintiff must come to court with clean hands and keep them clean, otherwise his claim will be rejected, regardless of the merit of the claim;
– The doctrine of dirty hands is not a legal or technical defense that can be used as a defense against any particular element of a cause of action. Rather, it is a reasonable argument for denying relief to a plaintiff where the principles of justice dictate that the plaintiff cannot obtain a favorable judgment, regardless of the merits of his claim;
– A party to a contract, who commits a wrongful act in the performance of a contract, is not entitled to take advantage of his wrongful act by subsequently demanding the performance of the contract.”
The judge also pointed out in his ruling that the statute criminalizing the receiving of stolen property allows the aggrieved party to file a civil action for damages. The device deprives the petitioner of the possible compensation he should have awarded to Lady Gaga, the magistrate wrote.
And that’s the part of the story that justifies the decision. Two days after the singer’s two French bulldogs were stolen by three men, one of whom shot Ryan Fisher in the chest while walking the dogs on the street, Jennifer McBride sent a message to Lady Gaga and was instructed to deliver the animals to a Los Angeles police station.
She went to the police station to hand over the dogs and claim the $500,000 reward, but police investigators quickly learned that she was the girlfriend of the father of one of the thieves. The story ended with the woman accepting a charge of receiving stolen property in a judicial confession without civil ramifications (no contest plea,
Three thieves involved in stealing expensive dogs such as French Bulldogs have been arrested and confessed to their crime. James Jackson, who shot the dog keeper but did not kill him, was jailed for 21 years. Lafayette Whaley and Jailyn White received six and four years in prison, respectively. White’s father (and Jennifer’s boyfriend), Harold White, was also released for: he was charged with illegal possession of a gun due to having an ex-convict.
dirty hands theory
The doctrine of dirty hands, as opposed to apparently clean hands, is used by defendants against plaintiffs. affirmative defense(indirect defense of merit), something like “the hunted turns against the hunter”.
Under this doctrine, a plaintiff cannot obtain a favorable decision from a court if, throughout history, he or she has been notarially at fault with respect to the disputed matter—for example, as a result of fraud, deception, dishonorable conduct, bad faith, or unethical behavior.
dictionary of law.com Lets give an example: A sues B for breach of contract, alleging that B did not pay the full value of work done on his property. However, B claims that the bid he received from competitors was actually built by A, so his bid was the best. A’s cleverness justifies the theory of dirty hands.
In that case, the request of the applicant will be rejected. but according to the website solicitorIn order to dismiss the action, it is incumbent on the defendant to prove that the plaintiff misled him in some way or did something wrong with reference to the matter in dispute.
According to this site, “affirmative defense” is also widely used in matters related to family law, particularly in disputes involving financial malpractice. Some fraudulent activities can be a factor in child support and property division disputes.
Sometimes things get complicated, for example when the defendant points to the plaintiff’s dirty hands and the plaintiff, in response, points to the defendant’s dirty hands. And the judge can only think that “no one is holy in this story”. With additional information from the ABA, Insider, TMZ and the Los Angeles Times, Law.com, UpCounsel and WestLaw’s Journal,
João Ozorio de Mello is a correspondent for the magazine legal adviser in the United States.