Shia LaBeouf is claiming that branding a bartender ‘racist’ was just free speech as his lawyers call for a defamation lawsuit to be dismissed.
David Bernstein, of Jerry’s Famous Deli, California, filed the suit against the Hollywood star for assault and defamation in May, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The $5 million suit alleged that Bernstein ‘experienced significant emotional distress, anxiety and fear,’ after the interaction, in which he says he refused to serve Shia any more drinks because the actor appeared intoxicated.
Shia LaBeouf is claiming that branding a bartender ‘racist’ was just free speech as his lawyers call for a defamation lawsuit to be dismissed
‘[LaBeouf] yelled at plaintiff and appeared ready to physically confront him after plaintiff refused to serve him a drink because [LaBeouf] appeared to be intoxicated,’ said Bernstein’s lawyer in a statement.
LaBeouf was then thrown out of Jerry’s in Los Angeles after launching into the furious rant.
The Transformers actor’s lawyer Briand Wolf is now hoping a California court will throw out that lawsuit, arguing that his client’s rant was covered by the first amendment, while Bernstein had actually made serious threats against LaBeouf, Page Six reports.
The complaint is ‘not only completely frivolous in nature, but also provides a compelling example of the type of claims which California’s anti-SLAPP statute was enacted to prevent,’ Wolf wrote in Wednesday’s filing for dismissal.
Meltdown: Shia LaBeouf is being sued after he furiously ranted at a bartender back in April (pictured)
He argued that Bernstein was only targeting LaBeouf because his ‘celebrity status turned what would have otherwise been a wholly private encounter… into a matter of significant public interest.’
‘This action amounts to little more than attempted civil extortion,’ said Wolf, adding that it’s ‘widely recognized that “name-calling”, no matter how obnoxious or vulgar, is not defamatory.’
He added that LaBeouf pounding his fist on the bar was ‘communicative and in furtherance of the very same protected free speech.’
‘While Plaintiff’s feelings may have been hurt by being called a racist by Defendant, ‘[t]here is no occasion for the law to intervene where someone’s feelings are hurt,” Wolf wrote. ‘
Indeed, Plaintiff’s own admitted conduct in threatening to hit Defendant with a Grey Goose bottle was more outrageous than anything that Defendant is alleged to have done.’
A video of the confrontation, captured by a fellow patron, showed the irate star being ushered out of the spot while screaming and calling the bartender a ‘f***ing racist’.
Making headlines: The actor has become known for his bizarre and erratic behavior in recent years
He appeared furious that staff refused to serve him French Fries, but the full extent of the interaction with the employee is not clear.
The Even Stevens star had allegedly been drinking beers at the adjoining bowling alley for three hours before the incident, TMZ reports.
Although clearly upset, Shia left the establishment, only to return shortly after when he realized he was still wearing bowling shoes.
After fetching his street shoes, Shia ran out of the venue.
Shia’s erratic behavior dates back to 2009 when he was charged with a misdemeanor for criminal trespassing after his 21st birthday.
In 2013, he was accused of plagiarism after releasing a short film which was actually an enactment of a short story written by author Daniel Clowes. Shia credited the incident for introducing him to the world of performance art.
In February 2014, Shia appeared with a paper bag over his head at the Cannes Film Festival premiere for his movie Nymphomaniac. The bag read ‘I am not famous anymore’
LaBeouf (L) during his He Will Not Divide Us livestream outside the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, in the Queens borough of New York January 24, 2017
The same month he stormed out of a press conference after delivering the cryptic line: ‘When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.’
The actor then launched the #IAMSORRY project where he invited guests to sit with him while he wore the paper bag over his head.
In June 2014, the star was escorted out of a Broadway performance of Cabaret for allegedly engaging in disruptive behavior and spent the night in jail. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
In October 2015 he was arrested for public intoxication while crossing the street in Austin, Texas and booked into jail for a night.
A month later he invited fans to join him as he watched all of his movies in chronological order in a New York movie theater. He also live-streamed the experience so viewers could watch his facial expressions during the viewings.