There’s basically nothing that shocks us with respect to Lindsay Lohan anymore. That includes that her recent declaration to the court that she suffered a miscarriage. You may recall that Lohan and her 6126 business partner, Kristi Kaylor, filed a $1.1 million lawsuit in a Los Angeles federal court in 2012 against D.N.A.M. APPAREL INDUSTRIES, the company responsible for manufacturing her 6126 line.
To this, D.N.A.M. countersued, with a $5 million breach of contract claim, alleging that Lohan’s hard-partying image devalued the brand. While Lohan's name is synonymous with drama at this point (think: drugs, rehab, arrests, rehab, lawsuits, sex lists), there is one thing that certainly doesn't help: The legal jargon that is being tossed around related to LiLo’s legal history, and more recently, her miscarriage disclosure, by celebrity gossip sites, which may be accurate, but probably isn't. So, allow us to explain what it all really means.
U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin dismissed Lohan from the initial suit after finding her in default for failing to answer D.N.A.M.’s countersuit. In response, Lohan apologized and asked the judge to reinstate her place in the complaint. “I apologize to the court in the delay in seeking relief but I have been overwhelmed since leaving rehab and dealing with my sobriety and a miscarriage,” Lohan wrote in a signed declaration in support of the motion to vacate default.
Let’s start with the beginning of what may be the end: Lohan’s failure to respond to the countersuit. According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), she generally had to respond “within 21 days after being served with the pleading that states the counterclaim or crossclaim”. She was given some leeway because she was in rehab, but when she got out, she still failed to respond. So, Olguin dismissed her from the suit by default, basically because she didn’t defend her position.
Lohan is now hoping that her plight will change the judge’s mind. On top of the leniency given to the starlet because she was in rehab, Lohan is looking for extra sympathy because she miscarried, and more importantly, she is seeking to vacate the default judgment. Simply put, she wants the default judgment against her set aside. According to the FRCP, a court may set aside a default judgment for “good cause, and it may set aside a default judgment under Rule 60(b)”. Relevant to Lohan, Rule 60(b) allows for setting aside a judgment for: Mistake, surprise, or excusable neglect or any other reason that justifies relief.
Several cases have said, “It is well settled that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are to be liberally construed to effectuate the general purpose of seeing that cases are tried on the merits and to dispense with technical procedural problems.” And thus, Lohan is likely to get what she’s seeking because, looking at the situation liberally, surely a miscarriage is good cause or a reason that justifies relief.
If she’s lying, though, as some sites suggest, she’s going to have more problems than just being dropped from a lawsuit. She’d be guilty of perjury, i.e., lying under oath about a “material” matter, which is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment for no more than five years. The materiality requirement is generally the most nettlesome element when it comes to perjury. A statement tends to be material “if it has a natural tendency to influence, or is capable of influencing, the decision of the decisionmaking body to whom it is addressed.” We’re pretty confident that claiming a miscarriage to essentially get more time would be material, and so, this element would not be an issue.
“Sources close” to Lohan insist she never miscarried and, in fact, was never pregnant. Just in case you aren’t convinced by unnamed sources, simply look at history. LiLo is not really known for her veracity and she’s been called a liar a time or two before. For example: Her recent and widely circulated sexual conquest list, which has been called into question by at least one person on said list (think: James Franco). More to come, we're sure ...
UPDATE: Following Lohan's miscarriage-related declaration, D.N.A.M. Apparel Industries, the manufacturers of her clothing line, are requesting to cross-examine her on June 5th in court in Los Angeles. Lilo's legal team has reportedly shut down the request, claiming this would not be necessary to the case. According to court documents filed by Lohan's team, forcing Lohan to testify about her miscarriage/sobriety "would invade her right of privacy and provide the court no guidance in its ruling." The lawyer further allege, "The court does not need the media circus that would ensue if [D.N.A.M.’s counsel] is allowed to invade Lohan’s privacy and delve into her mental state regarding her sobriety and miscarriage." And last but not least, Lohan's lawyers said she would be unable to testify in Los Angeles because she is a New York resident.
JENNIFER WILLIAMS is a recent law school graduate who writes about fashion, the legal avenues available for protecting it, and the ways in which the laws are falling short. For more from Jennifer, follow her on Twitter.