After nearly two years, Sean "Diddy" Combs completed his deposition last week in the $130 million civil lawsuit stemming from the 1999 Club New York shooting that sent the Bad Boy CEO's former protégé, Shyne, to prison, MTV News has learned.
Natania Reuben, who filed the suit, claims the Bad Boy CEO and Shyne (Jamal Barrow, who changed his name in 2006 to Moses Michael Leviy in honor of his Jewish heritage), among others, are responsible for the injuries she suffered that night as a result of the gunfire. Reuben was shot in the face during the melee.
According to Shyne's legal counsel, Oscar Michelen, Diddy completed his deposition on Wednesday, which now puts the wheels in motion for a trial date to be set, possibly as soon as early 2009.
Diddy's busy schedule, along with litigation from the charges against Shyne, resulted in the hip-hop mogul's deposition being stretched out over time. Bad Boy employee Derek Ferguson is the next and last party scheduled for deposition, Michelen said.
Diddy — who signed Shyne to Bad Boy Entertainment — was acquitted of all charges in the criminal trial.
On the night of December 27, 1999, Shyne, Diddy, Diddy's then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez and others were at the now-defunct Club New York. A man named Matthew "Scar" Allen approached Diddy's crew and then tossed a wad of money toward them, taunting the Bad Boy top dog. Reports conflict over what exactly happened next. Shots were fired and three people were hit, causing patrons to hurriedly exit the night spot. Clubgoers fingered Shyne as the shooter, but the rapper argued that a member of Allen's entourage fired first. Diddy and Lopez escaped the scene in a car, and their driver ran several traffic lights while getting away.
The civil trial could be the first time Shyne, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty on five charges — including assault in the first degree — would testify about the events that took place that night, Michelen revealed. During the criminal trial, Shyne declined to take the stand.
At the center of the deposition, according to Michelen, is whether Shyne acted independently when he pulled a gun and fired shots that night — or as a part of the Bad Boy collective.
Lawyers for Reuben — and Michelen himself, he said — questioned Diddy about the incident, his relationship with Shyne and the criminal trial.
Michelin referenced an article in New York's Civil Practice Law & Rules in which a plaintiff can seek 100-percent payment from one person, even though share of the blame could legally be shared among all parties. A judge still needs to decide which parties will stand trial, if any, during the civil lawsuit, based on the evidence. A jury would then later decide who is responsible and for what.
However, a situation could result where Diddy would have to pay up and then seek financial compensation from his one-time recording artist Shyne. The club management and the security firm were also named in the civil lawsuit, as was Bad Boy Entertaintment, in addition to Diddy and Shyne.
When contacted by MTV News, Diddy's attorney in the civil case, Kenneth Meiselas, issued a statement through a publicist maintaining his client's innocence.
"Mr. Combs was acquitted by a jury of all charges related to this 1999 incident and we are confident that he will prevail in this civil lawsuit," an e-mail sent to MTV News read.
Shyne could be released as early as this year or next year, according to his attorney. A parole hearing date has not been set, but the rapper has served eight years of his 10-year sentence after being convicted on March 16, 2000.
Currently, the rapper is in the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Woodburn, New York (he was previously incarcerated in the Clinton Correctional Facility). His lawyer acknowledged the facility is full of "short timers," meaning inmates who will not serve long sentences at the prison.