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Neville Johnson Quoted in Findlaw Reporting on Chris Rock Lawsuit (Feb. 27, 2009)

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Model Monika Zsibrita Says Not a Gold Digger, Gets Lawsuit Against Chris Rock Unsealed: Did Rock Open Up This Can of Worms?

February 27, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The L.A. Times reports that model-turned-stay-at-home-mom, Monika Zsibrita, has had her civil lawsuit against Chris Rock unsealed by a court. The Times summed up the decade-long background leading up to this case as follows:

"It's been more than a decade since Chris Rock and a shapely blond model struck up a conversation over Sunday brunch at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. The relationship that followed was brief -- two dinner dates -- but there seems to be no end to the fallout from the liaison.

The second date led back to Rock's hotel room, which led to sex -- he has said he was separated from his wife at the time -- which led to a paternity suit, then tabloid headlines, an allegation of rape, the hiring of private investigator Anthony Pellicano [of wiretapper to the stars fame/infamy], two DNA tests, a confidential settlement, testimony before a federal jury and, on Thursday, the revelation of a new civil suit."

Yes, after more than 10 years, the Zsibrita would like to make it clear, particularly to "those in her native Hungary", that she's no gold digger and would like to get her side of the story out there for all to see. So what is her side of the story? The lawsuit, which was filed in August 2008, claims "breach of contract and a host of other charges", but the L.A. Times notes "its overarching theme is that the comedian known for his caustic humor is, as Zsibrita called him in a conversation after the hearing, 'a monster'", and she "accuses him of first raping her, then siccing a criminal private investigator on her and finally raining potshots on her on Howard Stern's radio show."

Interestingly, it was the latter "potshots" on Stern's show that may have, in part, contributed to allowing the suit to come to public light. Zsibrita's attorney, Neville Johnson, says she first filed the suit under seal "because she did not want to run afoul of the confidentiality agreement contained in a 2000 settlement of the paternity case." He argued further:

"that Zsibrita should not be bound by the agreement because Rock had talked about her during a 2004 appearance on Stern's show. According to a summary of the show included in court papers, the comedian said that his sexual liaison with Zsibrita was consensual and that he had been set up by a Nigerian hustler who was actually the father of her child."

Although there confidentiality agreements can vary widely in type and enforcement, courts will often not allow a party to enforce a confidentiality agremeent when that same party has been the one spilling the beans in public, because they are the ones breaking the agreement. Indeed, the court in this case apparently agreed with Zsibrita and unsealed the lawsuit, rejecting arguments Rock's lawyers made to the contrary when it noted details about their relationship were already all over the Internet.

As a sidenote, this isn't the first time Chris Rock has faced issues arising from a paternity suit. In 2007, FOX News reported that Kali Bowyer of Georgia filed a paternity suit seeking child support for her then-13-year-old son who she claimed was Rock's son. However, although a DNA test in that case established that Rock was not the father, Bowyer didn't accept the result and Chris Rock ended up suing to try to keep Bowyer from talking or writing about her claim that the comedian fathered her teenage son. Unlike the Szibrita case, however, no confidentiality agreement had been entered into by either party and Bowyer argued it would violate her First Amendment rights to forbid her from talking about her own experiences.

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