Actor sues Academy, claims false imprisonment

Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:21am EDT
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By Matthew Belloni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - An actor who was denied entrance to the Oscars last month has sued the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for false imprisonment, claiming he and his wife were detained for hours without their consent.

Michael Avila, whose IMDb profile says he appears (under the name Michael AvMen) in the upcoming films "Battle: Los Angeles" and "Straw Dogs," claims in a lawsuit filed Friday that he and his wife Mandy were unlawfully imprisoned outside the ceremony after a ticket mix-up.

The Venezuela-born actor says his publicist (unidentified) arranged for him to attend the March 7 ceremony at the Kodak Theater and told him he could pick up his tickets once inside the venue. But when the Avilas arrived on the red carpet without tickets, they say they were "rushed away to an AMPAS detention center where they were held and questioned about how they had been able to get onto the red carpet."

Six hours later, they were transferred to the police station and released without any charges.

"Until approximately 10 p.m., Plaintiffs continued to be held against their will by AMPAS personnel, continued to be questioned, and continued to repeatedly request to be allowed to return to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel," the complaint alleges. "At no point had Plaintiffs been arrested, been read their rights, or been allowed to contact legal representation to understand why they were being held against their will and badgered with all sorts of personal questions."

The lawsuit says the couple suffered "sustained injury to his and her body and shock and injury to their nervous system" and have been experiencing "humiliation, mental anguish and emotional and physical distress." They want $50 million in exemplary and punitive damages to punish the Academy.

AMPAS, which boasts about its extra-tight security at the Oscars, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.