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Judge OKs Punitive Damages in Malibu Property-Crossing Beef

The actress has lived in a rustic area on Barrymore Drive above Pacific Coast Highway since April 1982.

A judge finalized his decision Friday allowing a Malibu woman to seek punitive damages and attorneys' fees in her long-running land dispute with the daughter of legendary entertainer Bing Crosby.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson had issued a tentitive ruling Thursday in favor of Susan Demers, rejecting arguments by lawyers for Mary Crosby and her husband, Mark Brodka, that the claims should be tossed out.

On Friday, the judge heard brief arguments from the attorneys before making his ruling official. Demers' lawyer, John Levitt, said afterward he was pleased with the decision.

In September, Johnson ordered Crosby and Brodka -- through a preliminary injunction -- to let Demers to cross the couple's land to reach a public area where the woman rides horses.

Crosby -- who famously shot Larry Hagman's J.R. character in the original "Dallas'' series -- and Brodka also were told to give Demers a remote-control device to open a gate the couple relocated and modified along an access road in May 2011.

The preliminary injunction against Crosby and Brodka, an attorney, is good until April 15, when the judge will hold a nonjury trial on the issues.

Mary Crosby, the 53-year-old daughter of Bing Crosby and second wife Kathryn Grant, and Brodka began the litigation by suing Demers and her friend, Martha Gwinn, in December 2010.

Crosby and Brodka's suit asks a judge to determine whether Demers and Gwinn have any rights to cross over the couple's property. The actress has lived in a rustic area on Barrymore Drive above Pacific Coast Highway since April 1982.

Demers, a horse trainer, then countersued Crosby and Brodka. Twice revised, Demers' complaint alleges nuisance, trespass, invasion of privacy and intentional interference with express easement. She also wants a permanent
injunction allowing her to continue crossing the couple's land, punitive damages and attorneys' fees.

Demers maintains that when she bought her property in 1987, it included easements giving her the right to pass over a part of the Crosby-Brodka property. But attorneys representing the actress and her husband say the easements were eliminated years earlier.

In a sworn statement she submitted in August opposing the preliminary injunction, Mary Crosby stated that she has dealt with stalkers for many years because of her "Dallas'' fame and worries about her security.

"A couple of the stalkers seemed harmless,'' she said. "However, one of the stalkers, William Casey, was very scary and threatening. Casey showed up at my house one day. When my husband approached him and said he was married to me, Casey said, 'Well, she was my wife first.'''

Since the debut of the latest "Dallas'' series, there has been "an increase in both nice and crazy communications,'' Crosby said.

Catherine Cassone January 04, 2013 at 01:23 AM
Yay for Susan Demers! It is a travesty that Susan has been put through this ridiculous lawsuit for using her own easement that came with the purchase of her property. What do stalkers have to do with a neighboring property owners rights??
Jack Utter January 04, 2013 at 04:33 AM
The Crosby, Brodka v. Demers case is a flagrant abuse of the legal process by Crosby and Brodka (a lawyer) and their lawyers. A fence and key pad was spitefully and maliciously installed by Crosby and Brodka (on Demers’ property) to impede Demers’ use of her legal and recorded easement (an easement originally recorded for the use and enjoyment by all residents of the area in Solstice Canyon as far back as 1938) which also runs over Crosby’s land. The law is well settled that limited or non-use of an easement does not relinquish the easement owner’s rights. I am the former legal counsel to Susan Demers. Her insurance company and their lawyers are now representing Ms. Demers in the matter which should ultimately result in the court holding for Demers and, hopefully, ordering damages to be paid to Demers by Crosby and Brodka. Jack Utter
Diane January 05, 2013 at 03:46 AM
Thank Goodness for justice in this case of an entitled celebrity trying to muscle through a quiet neighborhood. Good decision Judge Johnson!
Mary January 05, 2013 at 04:54 AM
The previous comments say it all! Congratulations Susan Demers!
IAN January 06, 2013 at 06:17 AM
Thank goodness we live in America where tyrants are judged appropriately. We hope Ms Demers shall be reimbursed sufficiently to halt Crosby/Brodka from further abuse of their neighbors and misuse of our overburdened legal system. May peace reign again in Solstice Canyon.

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