Unruh’s Complaint Could Anchor Class-action
By Chris Villani and Joe Dwinell
November 9, 2017
Heather Unruh’s complaint against Kevin Spacey could be the cornerstone of a class-action suit against the Hollywood star, similar to the cases filed against the Archdiocese of Boston during the clergy sex abuse scandal.
And such a sweeping civil action could cost the now-banished “House of Cards” actor millions, said Boston civil litigation lawyer Mark Itzkowitz.
“An award could be astronomical,” said Itzkowitz. “The fact that so many people are coming forward against Spacey lends credibility” to Unruh’s accusation.
The former Channel 5 anchor told reporters yesterday Spacey plied her underage son with alcohol in June 2016 at the Club Car restaurant on Nantucket. He then allegedly grabbed the then-18-year-old’s genitals, she said. Prosecutors said they have launched an investigation.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who is representing Unruh’s son, said he is exploring taking civil action against the A-list actor.
Spacey’s career has been in a free fall, and he announced last week he is seeking treatment after actor Anthony Rapp said Spacey made an unwanted sexual advance at him during a party at Spacey’s home in the 1980s, when Spacey was 26 and Rapp was just 14.
Filmmaker Tony Montana and others have since come forth with similar allegations against the 58-year-old Spacey.
Hub attorney Carmen L. Durso said accusers lining up against Spacey makes a case against him that much stronger.
“If he has 10 victims, you could theoretically have all 10 victims testify at a civil trial,” Durso said. “It gives the jury a basis for believing the victim, buttressing the victim’s credibility in talking about something that other people agreed that person did before and was in a habit of doing.”
Durso said the key is showing a pattern of alleged criminal behavior.
“Modus operandi. What it means is the person who did the crime engaged in prior similar acts. It shows he had a way of doing this,” Durso said.
“Most of the other cases were people in which (Spacey) had some power over them, he had some ability to exercise some authority, or they were in a position where they felt he was able to control their life,” Durso said. “That really enhances damages.”
As for a possible class-action suit, Durso said it’s not likely.
Both Durso and Itzkowitz worked on some of the church abuse cases that resulted in millions of dollars in payouts and know the pitfalls.
“These types of cases are very real and very disturbing,” said Itzkowitz. “They leave an impression that lasts forever.
“With victim after victim coming forward,” he added of the Spacey story, “there’s reason for a jury to believe them.”