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Judge Dismisses Suit Against Psychic Readers Network

November 09, 1996|JAMES RICCI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles judge Friday ruled that the Psychic Readers Network--psychic or not--couldn't be expected to know about a lawsuit against it if it weren't served with the proper papers.

Superior Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper dismissed the suit after plaintiffs' lawyers failed to appear in court to explain why they didn't formally notify the defendants they were being sued.

The suit accused the network and its television spokesman, actor Billy Dee Williams, of fraud, negligent misrepresentation and invasion of privacy in connection with an infomercial about the January 1994 Northridge earthquake.

The action was filed by the owners of a Granada Hills apartment building, and by Rocco and Andina Maramonte, who now live in Beverly Hills but used to reside in the structure.

Rocco Maramonte, the suit alleged, was injured when the building was damaged in the quake. Subsequently, he suffered "severe and enduring emotional distress" from repeated broadcasts of the infomercial, which included footage of the Maramontes' damaged apartment, the suit said.

The video included a dramatization in which an actor playing the apartment's resident claimed that contacting the Psychic Readers Network had prompted him to remove his daughter from the part of the apartment that later collapsed.

The suit charged the Maramontes had never contacted the Florida-based network, which charges callers $3.99 a minute for telephone consultation with professed psychics, and do not have a daughter.

In dismissing the suit for "lack of prosecution," Judge Cooper closed her eyes, pressed her fingertips to her temples and wondered whether the plaintiffs had meant to serve notice on the defendants telepathically.

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