A Santa Monica, Calif., jury yesterday (April 17) cleared rocker Tommy Lee of responsibility in the death of a 4-year-old boy who drowned in his pool, rejecting a $10 million wrongful death claim by t
A Santa Monica, Calif., jury yesterday (April 17) cleared rocker Tommy Lee of responsibility in the death of a 4-year-old boy who drowned in his pool, rejecting a $10 million wrongful death claim by the child's parents.
The jury deliberated for less than three hours before returning a unanimous verdict in a lawsuit brought against Lee by German actress Ursula Karven-Veres and her Hollywood producer husband, James Veres.
"It was very, very obvious that Tommy Lee was not responsible for the death of that child," jury foreman Howard Pollack said outside court after the verdict. "People are responsible for their own children."
Lee, the ex-husband of former "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson, showed no reaction as the verdict was read and left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. His attorney, Jim Baratta, said the 40-year-old former Motley Crue drummer took "no pleasure" in the legal victory. "We feel very badly for these people but [Lee] was never responsible for this and I think everyone knew that," Baratta said.
Karven-Veres, a popular TV actress in Germany, and her husband were not in court for the verdict. Also absent were the couple's two lead attorneys, Thomas Girardi and David Lira, who could not immediately be reached for comment. They argued at trial that the birthday party for Lee's son Brandon, then 5, was poorly planned and should have included a lifeguard and flotation vests for all of the children.
But jury foreman Pollack, the 62-year-old father of four who completed his service at the trial despite suffering a mild heart attack on Saturday, said jurors did not feel that Lee had been irresponsible. "There were too many adults there to have worried about hiring a lifeguard," he said. "Does anybody do that? He can't be expected to do that just because he's Tommy Lee."
Young Daniel Veres went to the party with his au pair, Christian Weihs, who left early for a pop concert and asked a nanny who was there with two girls to watch over the boy. Daniel, who could not swim, drowned about two hours later.
Karven-Veres, 39, testified tearfully at trial that she thought Daniel was in good hands at the party with Weihs but did not know that Lee had a swimming pool and would not have sent her son there if she had.
Lee also testified during the trial, recalling the horror of finding that Daniel had drowned in the shallow end of his pool while he was watching his two sons.
COPYRIGHT: (c) Reuters 2003. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.