Rapper 50 Cent dodged a defamation trial in New York State court Tuesday by filing a bankruptcy petition in federal court and asking the feds to remove the case from state jurisdiction.
Lawyers for the Queens-born rapper, whose real name is Curtis James Jackson III, gave no inclination that he was going to file the bankruptcy claim in Connecticut, where he has a home in Farmington.
Lastonia Leviston, 36, sued Jackson in 2010 claiming that he violated her privacy by posting a video of her on the web that showed her having sex with her boyfriend.
Court papers say Jackson superimposed his own photo onto the male in the video so that the tape would taunt his rival Rick Ross, who is the father of Leviston’s child. Ross was not the boyfriend in the video.
Jackson’s lawyers were supposed to be in Manhattan Supreme Court at 11 a.m. Tuesday to pick a jury for the long-awaited civil trial.
As Leviston’s team of six lawyers waited for the rapper’s lawyers to show, they suddenly got an email saying that Jackson had filed for bankruptcy protection for a company that he substantially owns, SMS Productions LLC.
Jackson’s lawyers contend that since he is the primary owner of SMS, this means he, too, is protected from lawsuits by bankruptcy law and they moved to have Leviston’s case to federal jurisdiction.
The papers were filed in federal court about 10 minutes before the lawyers were supposed to show up in state court to pick a jury for the Leviston trial.
“This is the most egregious case of sandbagging,” Hunter Shkolnik, one of Leviston’s lawyers, told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten.
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