TIME magazine introduced the tradition of naming a person who has been the most influential in the news for better or worse but All About the Tea wants you to decide who should be its 2014 Person of the Year: Legal Edition. There is no denying Bravo TV cast members put the “law” in lawlessness in 2014.
Not all civil and criminal disputes are created equal. Generally speaking, greed, arrogance, a gargantuan ego, and sociopathic tendencies act as the catalyst for legal drama. Even though some of AATT’s 4 finalists (see below) for Person of the Year did not self-destruct in 2014, their PR and legal clout sure did.
1. Divorce Divas Phaedra Parks & Ramona Singer:
RHOA’s Phaedra Parks broke her silence regarding her marriage woes on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in October – sort of. She dispelled certain rumors while igniting others. “I’m an attorney myself and so I wanted him [Apollo Nida] to have the best [lawyers and investigators] so we could fight this together, but obviously it did not turn out like that,” remarked the author of “Secrets of the Southern Belle: How to Be Nice, Work Hard, Look Pretty, Have Fun, and Never Have an Off Moment.”
Phaedra has said Apollo’s dishonest, illegal actions constitute the ultimate betrayal but did the self-proclaimed “sassy but always classy atty” know about his illegal activity when it was occurring? Phaedra has insisted she was a devoted wife to the bitter end despite the fact she skipped his fraud sentencing and distanced herself as soon as his legal issues – he pled guilty to identity theft and fraud – became public.
“I tried to make my marriage work because I have strong values and I believe that people make mistakes,” Ramona Singer, 57, said. “But you reach a point where you realize the other person isn’t putting in as much effort as you are.” Ramona is steadfast in her resolve to go through with the divorce she filed in January. The coroner ruled the cause of death on Singer’s 22-year marriage to Mario Singer, 60, to be his alleged affair with a 32-year-old.
You can count on Ramona’s “crazy eyes” to be out in full force and effect when a court addresses how her future RHONY earnings, Upper East Side condo, and Hamptons estate will be divided. On the other hand, Phaedra may ask a court to terminate Apollo’s visitation rights; convictions of certain crimes cause the legal system to limit or terminate custody, visitation, and parental rights. Stay tuned as Ramona and Phaedra navigate the dark, treacherous waters of divorce.
2. Under The Influence (Bella Hadid):
RHOBH’s Yolanda Foster and Mohammed Hadid’s second daughter, Bella, was arrested Tuesday, July 22 on the Pacific Coast Highway near Los Angeles for drinking and driving. “This reckless choice was so shocking and disappointing to me,” Yolanda, a former model, explained in her Bravo TV blog. Bella evidently drove through a stop sign and almost collided with an L.A. County Sheriff’s Department police car. Law enforcement sources say the minor blew a .14 on the breathalyzer, which is almost double the legal limit. FYI: 17-year-olds are not permitted to have any percentage of alcohol in their system while driving. To add insult to injury, Bella was reportedly driving on a suspended license at the time of her arrest.
The court suspended Hadid’s license for a year, put her on six months probation, and required her to complete 25 hours of community service and 20 hours of AA meetings. Is this an appropriate penalty? While David Foster’s stepdaughter did not harm anyone when she elected to drive drunk, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 10,322 people died in drunk driving crashes in 2012. That is 10,322 people too many.
3. Bitten in Broad Daylight (Kim Richards):
After the former child star’s beloved pit bull Kingsley attacked her niece, Alexia Umansky, RHOBH’s Kim Richards removed the dog – which she called her “best friend” – from her home.
Kingsley has a long history of biting: It attacked its trainer on an episode of the show and court documents filed by longtime family friend Ellen Catherine (“Kay”) Rozario assert that Kingsley left her with bloody wounds on her hand, arm, and back.
Rozario’s lawsuit dated December 12, 2014 names both Richards and Evolution Film & Tape, Inc., which is the company that produces the Real Housewives series, as defendants. Rozario’s legal theory against producers is that they fraudulently concealed evidence of Kingsley’s violent tendencies. Richards faces a lawsuit for negligence, statutory strict liability based on California’s Dog Bite Statute, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other claims.
California is a strict liability state in which its dog bite statute makes the owner of a pooch strictly liable for any dog bite from the moment ownership begins, provided the victim was not trespassing, provoking the dog or performing a paid service involving the dog. Strict liability is plaintiff-friendly insofar as the defendant’s actual negligence or intent to harm is immaterial.
4. Fraudulent Felons Teresa Giudice & Apollo Nida:
Last but certainly not least are Teresa Giudice and Apollo Nida. The fraud perpetrated by Teresa, who is scheduled to report to prison on Jan. 5 is so legendary it is the stuff of law school hypotheticals – well, the pathetic ones at least. Teresa and Joe Giudice pleaded guilty in March to tax evasion, hiding assets from bankruptcy court, and conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud.
Meanwhile, RHOA’s Apollo Nida tucks himself into bed each night at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky. He pleaded guilty to bank fraud and identity theft earlier this year. Apollo was sentenced to eight years behind bars.
You decide who should be anointed “AATT’s Person of the Year” by voting in our poll and posting your thoughts below.
On a personal note, I want to wishAll About the Tea posters and fans a Happy Holidays plus a New Year filled with health and prosperity. I look forward to covering all the latest legal news for you in 2015!
Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.