Back in September 2017, model Elsie Hewitt sued her ex, actor Ryan Phillippe, accusing him of assault and battery. The suit detailed an alleged incident from that July, during which Hewitt says the Shooter star threw her down the stairs twice, before shouting at her, “Get the fuck out of my house, you crazy cunt!” Following this disputed interaction—Phillippe has vehemently denied the accusations—a police report was filed, and the LAPD issued an Emergency Protective Order. The criminal investigation against Phillippe has since been closed, and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office did not file charges.
In response to a Daily Beast piece titled “What Happened to Ryan Phillippe’s Brutal Assault Allegations?”, Hewitt’s lawyer Keith Fink reached out to me with an update on the “on-going” case. Fink told The Daily Beast in late June that Hewitt’s lawyers had filed four discovery motions “this week,” adding, “We have been getting the runaround from Phillipe’s legal team…The current law firm has attempted to delay the case for months claiming Phillipe has insurance for our claim even though we have sued him for assault and battery. Meanwhile the insurance lawyer has not stepped into the case despite us being told of his appearance for months.”
New legal docs filed earlier this week appear to shed more light on what Fink deems Phillippe’s “stonewalling tactics.”
In February, Phillippe’s lawyers challenged the Plaintiff’s Request for Production of Documents, in part citing attorney-client privilege and potential violation of privacy. That document by Phillippe’s team pledged, “We stand by the appropriateness of our objections, but are willing to provide supplemental responses if you agree to limit the requests.” Hewitt’s legal team subsequently filed a motion “to compel further responses to Plaintiff’s requests for production of documents.” Fink told The Daily Beast that, “Discovery was sent out in November of 2017. It has been eight months now and we have received nothing but boilerplate objections. Not a single document was produced and not a single discovery question answered. Even with Phillippe having been forced by our motions to concede his objections were improper and documents and responses would be produced we still have nothing.”
Phillippe’s new attorneys filed four oppositions on July 11, explaining that, although they were retained in May 2018, “defense counsel as of July 9, 2018 has still not received the signed substitution of attorney; and was only recently able on June 27, 2018 to meet the defendant and appreciate the facts of this case and the potential of preparing supplemental discovery responses.” Phillippe’s legal team did concede that, “the transition of previous counsel to current defense counsel perhaps complicated the ability of the discovery disputes to be resolved absent court intervention.”
A July 11 opposition filing details objections lodged by the Phillippe camp “based upon defendant’s right to privacy and relevance for production requests nos. 23-28 and 42-45.”
Request No. 27 consists of “all documents relating to any supplements or drugs Phillippe takes in furtherance of his physical training routine in 2017.” Numbers 42 through 45 request documents and communications relating to Phillippe’s drug and alcohol use in 2017.
Summarizing the latest developments in the case, Fink told The Daily Beast that Phillippe’s legal team has pledged to provide, “Most everything we asked for except responding to questions about drug and alcohol use as well as his physical training [and] his deposition which he has avoided as well.” Fink explained that, “[Phillippe’s] training in martial arts would support his ability to assault [Hewitt] as we have set forth in our complaint and go to his absurd claim he assaulted her because of some need to defend himself.” He continued, “His use of drugs and alcohol bear on his recollection of the events.”
Phillippe’s lawyer Shawn Holley, meanwhile, told The Daily Beast, “It is interesting that Ms. Hewitt’s lawyers would characterize the delays, which are typical in all litigation, as ‘stonewalling’—especially given the fact that we served discovery on her first and have STILL not received much of the information requested. This includes Ms. Hewitt’s deposition, which we asked for more than 7 months ago.”
As The Daily Beast previously reported, Hewitt’s September lawsuit accused Phillippe of abusing “cocaine, ecstasy, psychedelic mushrooms, and steroids.” The filing further claimed that the actor “increasingly combined these drugs with excessive alcohol consumption and often exhibited symptoms attendant of poly drug and alcohol abuse, including mood swings and bouts of anger.” Hewitt has alleged that Philippe was “drinking heavily” at a party the night that he allegedly assaulted her. But an opposition filing by Phillippe’s team insists that none of the aforementioned requests “are relevant to the issues in the summons and complaint, and they all invade defendant’s right to privacy.”
“Here is a prime example of someone with power and money falsely collaborating with his spin-control team to tell the media falsehoods,” Fink told The Daily Beast. “He said he would sue her for defamation which of course he did not do because her complaint is truthful. Why hasn’t the media followed up and asked him what happened to his promised defamation claim?”
He added, “You have to remember not every survivor has the ability to access the media and virtually none have PR teams. Delays in the process of course are a defendant’s dream as many lose hope that their claims can be vindicated by a legal system that can be seen as a game of hide and seek by perpetrators of assault.”