Less than a month after a photographer allegedly smashed into Lindsay Lohan's Mercedes while trying to catch a photo of the star, the California legislature has introduced a bill that would make the paparazzi liable if they assault celebrities while pursuing a photograph.
The bill, AB 381, would not only open photographers to civil damages if they assault a star while hunting for a money shot, it would also force them to give up any compensation for the shots, which can sometimes draw paydays of several hundred thousand dollars from the tabloid press, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"I fully support a free press, but putting people in harm's way for a photograph cannot be tolerated," said Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez, the San Fernando Democrat who introduced the bill. "We will not let paparazzi profit from their dangerous behavior." The bill, which will be considered Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, would also entitle the star to seek damages.
Photographer Galo Ramirez was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in the June 1 Lohan crash. The accident prompted Los Angeles authorities to widen an investigation into whether the city's notoriously tenacious paparazzi are engaging in a criminal conspiracy to get photos of stars in stressful situations (see "Star-Chasing Paparazzi Could Face Felony Conspiracy Charges").
The investigation was opened months before Lohan's run-in, after several incidents — including one involving Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake — where it appeared that photographers collaborated in an attempt to provoke celebrities to get their distressed reactions on film.