Another legal victory for Sacha Baron Cohen

Bruno 'assault' lawsuit thrown out

A court has thrown out another lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen – ruling that he was exercising his right to free speech during a tussle which left a woman injured.

Richelle Olson sued Baron Cohen in 2009, claiming to have been left crippled when she fell and hit her head moments after a scuffle during a charity bingo game.

She claimed the comedian – in character as Bruno – ‘offensively touched, pushed and battered’ her as she tried to wrest the microphone from him as he was calling the numbers.

Ms Olson, now 41, stepped in after he started making up his own phrases for the numbers, based on homosexual acts.

In her lawsuit, she claimed that after the incident, she went weeping to another room, where she fainted, hitting her head and causing injuries that left her needing a cane to walk.

However, at the time the action was lodged, NBC Universal, which produced the Bruno, movie, said: ‘Filmed footage of the full encounter... clearly shows that Ms. Olson was never touched or in any way assaulted by Sacha Baron Cohen or any member of the production and suffered no injury.’

The 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles has now made its free speech ruling, which blocks her legal action. It said that Baron Cohen's behaviour was protected because he was trying to offer commentary on gay stereotypes, culture and homophobia.

The scene did not appear in the final version of Bruno.

Published: 15 Sep 2011

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