By Diana Falzone, ,
Published April 28, 2016
A judge is considering whether the case brought against Charlie Sheen by ex-fiancée Brett Rossi will go to a jury or be decided in arbitration.
Los Angeles Superior Court judge Michelle Williams tentatively ruled in favor of Sheen's petition to compel arbitration, but after hearing arguments on Monday, Williams decided to take the matter under submission.
Rossi filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court on December 3, 2015 accusing the actor of having sex with her without disclosing his HIV status, assault, battery, and false imprisonment.
In her suit, she also said she signed a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) at Sheen’s residence under duress, which she and her lawyers say renders that NDA invalid.
That NDA, obtained by FOX411 and signed by Rossi under her full legal name, Scottine Ross, and Sheen on Nov. 1, 2013, stipulated anything that occurred behind closed doors at Sheen’s house that should cause a future disagreement would be handled privately, by an independent arbitrator.
Steven Rabinowitz, a partner in Pryor Cashman’s Litigation, Family Law and Labor & Employment Groups, said most NDAs end up standing up in court.
“Agreements, including NDAs, are binding if there is consideration in entering into them,” Rabinowitz told FOX411. “The consideration can be awfully slight. So, here the opportunity to spend time with Sheen is likely enough.”
But Rabinowitz added “the right to bring a claim for what amounts to assault or at least reckless endangerment could very well be sufficiently strong public policy to trump the NDA.” And should the Sheen/Rossi NDA be rendered invalid, the attorney predicts the possibility that “the floodgates may very well be open” for others who signed an NDA to come forward.
That’s what Rossi’s lawyer, David Ring, is counting on. Before this week's hearing, Ring told FOX411 if the NDA is deemed invalid, Rossi’s legal team would “get a jury trial in court instead of a confidential private arbitration hearing that he [Sheen] wants.”
But Rabinowitz cautioned that if the NDA should hold up in court, “then others likely won’t come forward, absent proof of something worse than exposure to HIV.”
In speaking to FOX411 before this week's hearing about why she signed the documents, Rossi said she arrived at Sheen’s house “already nervous and uneasy about the circumstances at which I was there.” She entered through a garage, where she was greeted by his personal security.
“Then, I was escorted into the security room where, inside of the security room there are tons of monitors and security cameras. I was forced to give up my cell phone as well as hand over two forms of ID so the security guy could make copies of it, and I was told I must sign the NDA before I was allowed to go upstairs to meet Charlie.”
Rossi said Sheen then paid $10,000 her to have sex that night. She said the two started dating, and were engaged in January 2014, before splitting later that year.
Sheen referenced the NDA in his petition against Rossi filed on Dec. 7, saying she “has attempted to extort millions of dollars by disclosing Sheen’s medical condition even though she had signed a confidentiality agreement.” Sheen’s reps did not reply to a request for comment, and Rossi's lawyer would not comment on this week's hearing.
Sheen disclosed he was HIV positive on November 17th, 2015. He has been appearing regularly on a syndicated medical program, “Dr Oz.” to provide updates on his treatment.