A judge on Thursday agreed to consider a request by lawyers representing Nicolas Cage for an order preventing the actor's upcoming deposition in a home defect lawsuit from being made public.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu said he wanted to strike a balance between the rights of the "Leaving Las Vegas" star and those who have public access to court records.
Cage is named in a suit brought on behalf of filmmaker Bradley Lindsley by his family trust. The complaint alleges Cage sold Lindsley a $3 million home without disclosing water drainage problems.
The trust originally sued the developer, the Lee Group, in May 2009. It then added as a defendant Cage – whose well-publicized real estate woes include sales of some of his other homes at drastically reduced prices – as well as the actor's former business manager, Samuel Levin, and real estate adviser, Richard Nazarian.
The suit alleges fraud and negligent non-disclosure by Cage.
Cage attorney Brian Wolf said the public has no right to access the depositions taken during trial preparations.
According to court papers submitted on the actor's behalf, Cage is "subject to unrelenting tabloid and media scrutiny and reporting" and that information about him is "highly valuable" and "routinely sold'' to the media.
The proposed order requests that no written, audio and video proceedings from the deposition be released to third parties, including the media.
Wolf told Treu he tried to reach an agreement with plaintiffs' attorney Mark Scott and avoid having to move for an order.
"We went out of our way to resolve these issues and he flatly refused," Wolf said.
Scott said he has philosophical problems with such an order.
"I don't think there should be a separate celebrity Code of Civil Procedure," Scott said.
Scott also states in his court papers that he has been trying since late July to take Cage's deposition and to finish one he started with Levin.
"He (Levin) appeared one day and left early the second day, saying he had to get to a Dodger game to get a bobblehead," Scott told Treu.
Wolf said Cage will return from filming a movie in mid-December and will be available for a deposition after that.
Treu directed the attorneys to try and agree on schedule times for the depositions and to report back to him during the next hearing Dec. 7. Treu also has asked for their opinion on the appointment of a ``discovery referee'' –a third party that typically is a retired judge – who can review the disputes between the parties and make recommendations to Treu.
Numerous cross-complaints have developed out of the original complaint.
Levin sued Cage in February 2011, contending the Oscar-winning actor is bound by an agreement to pay for his attorneys' fees and cover any financial losses he may suffer if sued in connection with his role as a co-trustee of the Hancock Park Real Estate Trust, a legal mechanism through which Cage holds title to property.
Levin resigned from his co-trustee role three years ago and maintains Cage did not follow up on his obligations to him after Lindsley bought the home in Los Angeles' Venice area from the actor nine years ago.
Nazarian, owner of The Nickel Co., sued Cage and Levin. He wants both ordered to pay at least part of any judgment against him, as well as his attorneys' fees.
Cage, 48, bought one of two single-family homes the Lee Group built adjacent to each other on Ocean Front Walk in November 2002, according to the complaint.
Other cross-complaints have been filed against and for various sub-contractors who worked on the home.
Lindsley alleges that some time after Cage moved into the home, the actor and his neighbor in the other Lee Group residence had problems with flooding and informed the developers.
However, when Lindsley bought the house from Cage in May 2003, the actor did not tell him about the defects, according to the complaint.
When another man expressed interest in the property before Lindsley did and found out about the drainage problems, he canceled escrow, according to the