A restitution hearing is set for today in the criminal battery case. But the Egyptian actor has no intention of paying a $445,000 civil judgment in the 2005 Beverly Hills incident.
Omar Sharif became a film idol playing men who went to war, from a sheik who took on the Turks in “Lawrence of Arabia” to the sensitive battlefield surgeon in “Doctor Zhivago.”
But it’s Sharif’s decision to step away from a fight that might make him an inspiration in Hollywood’s legal circles.
Earlier this year, the 76-year-old actor stopped defending himself against a civil suit by a valet he struck in the face outside a tony Beverly Hills steakhouse in 2005. Sharif, who had spent two years and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees attempting to settle the case, concluded that he was, in the words of one of his lawyers, “being shaken down” based on his celebrity.
Others may have gritted their teeth and written a check. Sharif refused. He let his attorneys go and said he was representing himself. Then he did nothing. He wrote no motions and attended no depositions. He skipped the trial.
The result was a default judgment, including a bill for the plaintiff’s legal fees, of $445,000. A lopsided outcome, but perhaps not a satisfying one for the winner.
Sharif has no intention of paying a dime.
“His position is that the judgment is never going to be collected,” said his former lawyer, Martin D. Singer.
An Egyptian citizen, Sharif has no assets in the United States and nothing to lose by flouting the judgment, former and current attorneys for Sharif say. The unpaid civil award won’t prevent him from traveling to the U.S. or working in films in Egypt and Europe, as he often has in recent years.
For the valet, Juan Ochoa Anderson, possible remedies are costly and time-consuming. The 50-year-old father who still works as a valet at Mastro’s Steakhouse can pursue Sharif’s assets in Egypt. But that would require a new trial there, complete with the mandatory translation of thousands of pages of case documents into Arabic.