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Neighbors Sue Charlton Heston Over Mudslide Damage

Neighbors who live down a hill from Charlton Heston's home are suing the actor, alleging that their property was damaged two years ago when heavy rain sent hillside debris pouring into their home.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Jerome and Flora Heilweil alleges "slope failure" on Heston's property caused substantial damage to their home in January 2005, diminishing the market value of their property. The couple seeks at least $1.2 million, as well as punitive damages.

Jeff Briggs, Heston's longtime attorney, said the actor owns 10 percent of the Southern California hillside while the Heilweils own the rest. He said, "It's their hillside."

The neighbors and their insurance companies have been battling for almost two years, Briggs said. At one point, the two sides sat down for mediation.

Torrential rains caused the mudslide, and Briggs said his client should not be held responsible for any damage to a neighbor's property. He said the mudslide was among hundreds that occurred in the area during a particularly rainy season.

Patty Glaser, an attorney for the Heilweils, said the couple does not want to comment on the lawsuit.

The Hestons have lived at the top of Mulholland Drive since 1959, according to Heston's publicist Bill Powers. He said the actor built the home with earnings from "Ben-Hur," which earned him an Oscar for best actor.

Heston, 83, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, also starred in "The Ten Commandments" and "Planet of the Apes."