Meet the lawyer trying to bring down "Jersey Shore"

Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:57pm EDT
 
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By Eriq Gardner

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Fans of MTV's "Jersey Shore" love the outsized personalities and the occasional fisticuffs. But it's hard to throw a punch without making some enemies, and chief among them might be New Jersey-based attorney Eugene Lavergne.

He isn't the only lawyer going after MTV and parent Viacom for airing the show. But in the past year, Lavergne has filed three separate "Jersey" lawsuits. From his first case on behalf of client Stephen Izzo, Jr., the alleged victim of a punch from one of the cast members, to his latest case on behalf of a woman identified as J.P., an alleged victim of the show's security staff, Lavergne has been pushing New Jersey judges to accept the notion that "Jersey" has all the characteristics of a racketeering enterprise. Which Lavergne says makes Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone the equivalent of a mob boss.

DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING PERSONAL AGAINST THE SHOW?

Lavergne: To be honest, I couldn't care less about the show. I'm part-Italian and I've been contacted by the Anti-Defamation League, but I regard the show as a trashy one that wouldn't be worth my time if I wasn't representing clients. The only reason I watch is because I have to for this litigation. I've represented Izzo for years, and agreed to help him with this case. Since then, I've been contacted by others who have heard about me through the Izzo case.

NEVERTHELESS, YOU'RE BECOMING THE GO-TO LAWYER TO PRESS CLAIMS AGAINST THE SHOW, AND YOU'VE PURSUED NUMEROUS ATTEMPTS TO SHUT IT DOWN VIA INJUNCTIONS.

Lavergne: The threshold for getting an injunction is high and I knew we weren't going to get it, but it was a necessary step in pressing RICO (the federal racketeering statute). Sumner Redstone is the functional equivalent of (famed ex-crime boss) Vito Genovese. They are able to get millions of dollars in profits off of criminal activities. That's exactly what RICO is and I think judges will see that.

IF NOT AN INJUNCTION, WHAT ARE YOU REALLY HOPING FOR HERE?

Lavergne: Well, for instance, we're having a hearing soon about the intoxication of J.P. If a court determines she was intoxicated (and show producers were complicit), the show will have huge problems. They will have to excise that scene or that episode.   Continued...

 
<p>The cast of "Jersey Shore" pose together backstage at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles June 6, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>