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Court rejects 'Die Hard' case

WASHINGTON, April 15 -- The Supreme Court refused Monday to review a case involving actor Laurence Fishburne, who sued Cinergi Productions for breach of contract after the production company allegedly backed out of a deal to let him star in the hit film 'Die Hard with a Vengeance.' Fishburne was trying to prevent the use of his psychotherapy diary in the suit. Fishburne, whose latest film was 'Othello,' told the Supreme Court in a brief that he entered into a contract in 1994 with Cinergi to play 'Zeus' opposite Bruce Willis in the movie, which was one of the sequels to the very successful 'Die Hard.' Even though the deal was struck, Cinergi 'in mid-June 1994 repudiated the agreement and replaced Fishburne with another actor (for significantly lower compensation),' Fishburne's petition to the high court said. Fishburne filed suit in Los Angeles against Cinergi for breach of contract, but did not 'seek damages for emotional distress...except for the routine distress which would naturally result from (Cinergi's) alleged fraud,' according to his petition. Nevertheless, during discovery when both sides must produce relevant evidence, Cinergi asked to see Fishburne's psychotherapy diary, which the actor concedes contains one reference to the movie. The diary 'was created and maintained at the specific direction of Fishburne's psychotherapist for the sole purpose of facilitating Fishburne's psychotherapy sessions,' the petition said. Though a discovery referee ruled Fishburne did not have to produce the diary, a state judge reversed, saying that the diary could be examined by the referee, who could then edit out the irrelevant parts.

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Eventually, the California Supreme Court refused to stay the judge's order, and Fishburne asked the Supreme Court for review. Fishburne based his petition on his right to privacy and confidentiality with his psychotherapist. Cinergi said in a brief opposing review that the issue is moot because Fishburne has already produced a copy of a portion of the diary while the case was being appealed. (No. 95-1262, Fishburne et al vs. Cinergi et al)

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