NEW YORK – An elderly widow says a freak Koosh Ball accident at a taping of the late Rosie O'Donnell Show (search) left her feeling like anything but a cutie-patootie.
Lucille DeBellis, 71, claims in a $3 million lawsuit that she suffered "pain and swelling," and "extreme embarrassment," when she was hit by a normally family-friendly Koosh Ball at a 2001 taping of the talk show, which went off the air last year.
"It hit her in the mouth," said DeBellis' lawyer, William Dealy.
The Manhattan Supreme Court suit says that "because of her physical discomfort and embarrassment with regard to her appearance, [DeBellis] was forced to spend the duration of the 2001 Christmas season in her home and turned down many opportunities to attend holiday parties and various social events."
It even "adversely affected [her] relationship with her boyfriend," the suit says.
A spokesman for the show's producer, Warner Bros., said, "We never comment on matters in litigation -- especially those that are ludicrous."
Dealy said his client, an NYPD policewoman from 1957 to 1967, had gone to the Nov. 29 taping of the show with another widow who was "a big Rosie O'Donnell fan."
The Hartsdale woman and her friend were sitting in the studio audience when, during a warm-up bit, she was "suddenly and without warning struck in the face with a hard object."
In court papers, she calls that object, "a hard rubber ball surrounded by a rubberized fringe," a "Cuzball" -- although it's actually called a Koosh Ball -- a soft, spikey ball O'Donnell was famous for tossing into the audience.
DeBellis said the ball had been "recklessly and negligently shot into the audience" with "a slingshot-like apparatus" -- actually called a Fling Shot -- by a show staffer. "The Cuzball struck plaintiff squarely in the mouth, causing her to suffer pain and swelling, as well as bleeding in her gums," the suit says.
The old cop stayed for the taping with her friend but was in "extreme discomfort" and later started to develop "small lumps in her mouth and lips," which didn't go away for "several months," the suit says.
As a result, DeBellis has had to make numerous trips to the doctor and the dentist, and is worried "the integrity of [her] front teeth may have been compromised" by the incident.
The suit charges the show, Warner Bros. and the mystery Koosh Ball-slinging employee with negligence and emotional distress. O'Donnell -- who's currently battling a lawsuit brought by the former publishers of her now-defunct magazine Rosie -- is not named as a defendant.