Reality show stars, network sued for Caribbean bar brawl

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 14, 2011 7:08 PM
Reality show stars, network sued for Caribbean bar brawl

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Chicago-area police officer and his family are suing the cast and crew of the reality television show "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" for injuries they sustained during a bar brawl while the program was filming in the Dominican Republic.

Adolfo Arreola and his cousin Jason Gomez said they were "savagely" beaten on February 23 when they tried to step in after one of the show's stars, Teresa Giudice, popped open a bottle of champagne and sprayed the contents around a hotel bar in Punta Cana, according to the lawsuit filed on Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court.

The champagne landed on Arreola's mother-in-law, Yolanda Martinez, causing her severe eye irritation, the lawsuit said. In addition, the reality stars, along with several of their husbands and sons, punched and kicked Arreola and Gomez and smashed glass on their heads, according to the suit.

"These are two pretty physically capable individuals," said the plaintiffs' attorney, Tom Moore. "Jason is no slouch and Adolfo is a police officer but they were totally overwhelmed."

The men, their wives and Arreola's mother-in-law are plaintiffs in the complaint. In addition to the cast and crew, they are suing Bravo Media, the network that airs the Real Housewives franchise, and Sirens Media, the production company behind it.

They also filed a lawsuit in Miami against the company that runs the resort for failing to provide adequate security and protection.

The plaintiffs contend Bravo and Sirens encouraged the reality stars to drink excessive amounts of alcohol, when it knew doing so would likely lead to a confrontation between the cast and bar patrons.

Officials from both companies did not return phone calls requesting comment.

The New York complaint also refers to a settlement agreement and release the plaintiffs said they were forced to sign after the incident. The men said they were told that if they refused, neither they nor their families would be able to leave the Dominican Republic.

Arreola and Gomez said they had to agree to keep quiet about the incident and the settlement, and to mediate and arbitrate any claims relating to the incident.

In exchange, they said, they each received $39,500 for medical, legal and other expenses.

(Reporting by Jennifer Golson. Editing by Jesse Wegman and Peter Bohan)