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Campbell M. Lucas, 80; Judge Became an Entertainment Law Mediator

May 13, 2005|Elaine Woo | Times Staff Writer

Campbell M. Lucas, a former appellate court justice whose skills as a mediator and arbitrator kept him in demand in retirement as a private judge specializing in entertainment cases, died Tuesday of melanoma at his Long Beach home. He was 80.

Lucas was appointed to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in 1984 by Gov. George Deukmejian, who was his law partner early in Lucas' legal career. Another former partner was his younger brother, Malcolm, who went on to become chief justice of the California Supreme Court.

He served seven years on the appellate bench, where he was known for his detailed opinions and courteous but firm demeanor.

"He was known for his patience at oral argument in particular and his willingness to make sure everyone who appeared in court had an opportunity to present their case in full," said appellate Justice Fred Woods, who knew Lucas for more than 30 years.

Lucas was the appellate court's presiding justice when he retired in 1991.

He then began a second career as an arbitrator, mediator and trial referee, taking on cases involving such Hollywood figures as Aaron Spelling, Elizabeth Taylor, Rip Torn and Dennis Hopper.

In one of the most complex of his private cases, Lucas served for 18 months as discovery referee in the dispute between the Walt Disney Co. and former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg over bonuses Katzenberg said he was owed. Katzenberg wound up winning a reported $250-million settlement in 1999.

Lucas also mediated a dispute between former Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz and a former Ovitz employee; between Spelling and a roofing contractor over the quality of repairs done at the producer's mansion; between the Beach Boys' Mike Love and Brian Wilson over song authorship; and between the National Enquirer and a host of celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor and Brad Pitt.

His involvement in entertainment cases began in the 1970s during his tenure as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. He presided over several lawsuits against Warner Brothers lodged by some of the principal players behind the movie "Superman," including screenwriter Mario Puzo and actor Marlon Brando. The movie, released in 1978, wound up making so much money that all the parties settled. The attorneys celebrated by sending a limousine to take Lucas and his staff to lunch.

Lucas also handled a case in which writer Richard Bach sued Paramount Pictures to prevent the premiere of the 1973 movie "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" because of discrepancies between his book and the screen version. Lucas let the movie open while he proceeded with a careful comparison of the book and screenplay. He ultimately ordered a number of changes in the movie, forcing the studio to rewrite significant portions.

Attorney Bertram Fields, who represented Bach, told the publication Verdicts & Settlements in 2000 that Lucas' order was precedent-setting. "It took tremendous courage to say this motion picture had to come out of theaters unless it was changed," Fields said. "Paramount was stunned."

Lucas was born in La Jolla and educated at UCLA and USC, where he obtained his law degree in 1952. A World War II veteran who was captured twice by German soldiers and earned two Purple Hearts, he entered private practice in Long Beach in 1954 in the firm Lucas, Pino & Lucas. Deukmejian joined the firm in 1962.

He was elevated to the Superior Court in 1970, leaving as supervising judge in 1984, when Deukmejian moved him to the appellate court. He became presiding appellate justice in 1988 and administrative presiding justice in 1989.

For a brief time in 1985 he shared the high court bench with his brother Malcolm when then-Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird named him as a temporary replacement for Justice Joseph Grodin, who had disqualified himself from a case because of a connection with one of the parties involved.

Lucas is survived by his wife of 44 years, Elizabeth; a daughter, Lisanne; two sons, Scott and Stephen; four grandchildren; and two brothers, Malcolm and Eric.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Justice Campbell M. Lucas Memorial Cancer Research Fund at St. Mary Medical Center Foundation, 1050 Linden Ave., Long Beach, CA 90813.

Burial will be private; a memorial service will be announced later.

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