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Ex-attorney for Tippi Hedren ordered to pay $1.5M on appeal

One California personal injury attorney’s conduct was for “The Birds,” at least when it came to representing a Hollywood legend in a 2006 suit. Actress Tippi Hedren responded to her former lawyer’s failure to properly represent her by filing a legal malpractice claim against him. That suit resulted in nearly $1.5 million in damages, a verdict that a California court of appeals has upheld.

Hedren is best known for starring in “The Birds,” the classic 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller. She continued to act in the following years, but suffered from chronic headaches for many years. In 2006, she underwent spinal fusion surgery that cured the headaches at last. She looked forward to working more as a result, and signed on for a part on a TV show called “Fashion House.”

During rehearsal one day, a gallon of water broke through the roof of the soundstage where the show was being shot. The water landed on Hedren’s head, injuring her and causing the headaches to return. Hedren later said that water had built up on the roof from the air conditioning system’s condensation. The cause? A bird’s nest blocked a tube meant to drain away the water.

Hedren filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owner and lessee of the soundstage, hiring an attorney to represent her in the case. Shortly before the case was to go to trial, the attorney filed to dismiss the suit without prejudice. An article in the Hollywood Reporter does not say why, but it is possible that the parties were close to a settlement.

But the attorney failed to get an agreement from the defendants regarding the statute of limitations, which sets a time limit on when a lawsuit can be filed. Due to this error, the statute of limitations ran out, making it impossible for Hedren to recover anything for her injuries.

Hedren later sued her former attorney for malpractice, and was awarded a judgment of just under $1.5 million. The attorney appealed, but the California appeals court upheld the verdict on Dec. 16.

Source: Hollywood Reporter, “Tippi Hedren Gets $1.5 Million After a Gallon of Water Falls on Her Head,” Eriq Gardner, Dec. 16, 2013