If someone stole from a famous celebrity, most people wouldn’t try to sue that celebrity for reward money. Nevertheless, Jennifer McBridge is simply determined to victimize Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta – also known as Lady Gaga – twice.
On February 26, 2021, Lady Gaga’s dog walker Ryan Fischer was shot in the chest and beaten by three assailants during the robbery, but survived. Two of Lady Gaga’s dogs were stolen during the robbery. Lady Gaga made a tweet stating that she would pay $500,000 for the safe return of her stolen dogs – “no questions asked.” That same day, Jennifer McBridge returned her dogs to the Los Angeles Police Department.
At the time, McBridge presented herself as a “good Samaritan” who happened upon the dogs by chance. However, McBridge was soon arrested as part of a conspiracy to steal the dogs. McBridge’s accomplices had shot Fischer and stolen the dogs while McBridge was supposed to sell them for profit. Fischer’s accomplices plead guilty to attempted murder while McBridge was convicted of knowingly receiving stolen property.
In February 2023, McBridge filed this lawsuit against Lady Gaga for breach of contract, fraud by false promise, and fraud by misrepresentation for failing to pay her the award. Gaga’s attorneys responded by seeking a dismissal of the lawsuit.
Did a Contract Exist Between Lady Gaga and McBridge?
Contracts are agreements between two parties where the parties agree to an exchange of goods or services. One of the key elements to a contract is that there must be “mutual assent” between the parties – that is both parties must agree to the contract. Lady Gaga asserts that McBridge disclaimed any intention of accepting reward money when she initially returned the dogs to LAPD.
However, McBridge arguably did intend to collect on the reward money since she was part of the conspiracy that wanted to steal the dogs for profit in the first place. Although McBridge did not know who owned the dogs at the time, she realized that she could obtain $500k once she realized that Lady Gaga was offering a reward for it.
Would Such a Contract Be Enforceable?
The biggest problem with McBridge’s case, and the issue that will likely seek her case with any jury, is that McBridge was an active participant in the plan to steal the dogs in the first place. McBridge comes into this case with “unclean hands” – she has been convicted of being part of the conspiracy – and the law will not allow a criminal to profit from the crime. McBridge’s position would allow a kidnapper to sue the family of a hostage if the family refused to pay the ransom. Allowing McBridge to prevail in this case would only serve to promote more crime, including theft and attempted murder.
McBridge may argue that Lady Gaga had said she would pay the award with “no questions asked.” However, public policy will override any contract formed even if such a contract were considered valid.
This lawsuit is only in its infancy as it was filled earlier this year. The biggest hurdle Lady Gaga faces with her move to dismiss this case is that it was filed before any evidence can be used. Lady Gaga’s attorneys filed a “demurrer” which is the first opportunity that a defense attorney can dismiss a lawsuit, but it is also the most difficult one.
In a demurrer, all allegations in the lawsuit are assumed to be true and no evidence is admissible except for ones that the court can accept at this early stage. A demurrer can only be filed before parties begin discovering new evidence. This means that everyone must assume that McBridge’s version of events is true – that she happened upon the dogs by chance and that Lady Gaga had offered to pay a reward with no questions asked.
A criminal conviction is arguably within the court’s ability to consider since the conviction comes from another court. Most trial judges would want to give a Plaintiff a chance to amend or fix their lawsuits of any defect. This lawsuit will eventually fail since most judges and jurists will not want to reward a Plaintiff for stealing property and nearly getting another man killed. However, this lawsuit should be still-born in its inception since McBridge cannot be allowed to profit from the crime she helped commit.
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The post Lady Gaga Seeks Dismissal of Woman’s Lawsuit over Reward for Return of Dogs – That the Woman Helped Steal appeared first on Law Blog.