Jury finds both Baldwin and photographer were negligent

Newsgathering | Feature | August 10, 1998

Jury finds both Baldwin and photographer were negligent


CALIFORNIA--In late July, a Van Nuys jury decided that both actor Alec Baldwin and paparazzo Alan Zanger were responsible for a confrontation that occurred in 1995 and awarded only a fraction of the damages sought by Zanger.

Zanger had filed a civil suit against Baldwin for assault, battery, emotional distress and the loss of an estimated $200,000 in income in district court in Van Nuys. Baldwin had countersued Zanger for invasion of privacy, negligence and distress. The jury only awarded damages on the negligence claims, finding that both Baldwin and Zanger were negligent. It did not award Baldwin any damages, but lowered its $6,000 estimate of Zanger's damages by 25 percent to $4,500, based on the jurors' assessment of the photographer's contributory negligence.

Baldwin's attorney, Philip Weiss, who argued that Zanger had "ruined a special day irrevocably," said that the jury's verdict was "very satisfying." "The only thing that matters to Mr. Baldwin is the principle of the thing. The only thing that matters to Mr. Zanger is the money," he said.

In October 1995 when Baldwin was returning home with his wife and newborn daughter, he spotted Zanger's pickup truck parked across the street from his house. The actor, suspecting there was a photographer inside, sprayed shaving cream on the windows to block the view.

Baldwin testified that Zanger then got out of the truck and kept videotaping, despite his requests to stop. Baldwin said that Zanger abruptly raised the camera, and Baldwin slapped it away in self- defense, accidently hitting Zanger in the nose and knocking off his glasses. He said Zanger then attacked him. Both men called 911, and Zanger made a citizen's arrest when Los Angles police arrived.

In his testimony, Zanger insisted that a "raging" Baldwin hit him in the face without provocation. Zanger claims that Baldwin broke his nose during the alleged assault, causing him $85,000 in medical bills and property damage.

Baldwin was acquitted of misdemeanor battery on Zanger in a 1996 criminal case arising from the same incident. (Zanger v. Baldwin; Photographer's counsel: Leonard Steiner, Beverly Hills)