Seven years after Dana Plato's death, a new legal battle is being waged among her survivors.
Plato's son, Tyler Lambert, 21, has targeted the late former child star's fiancé in a lawsuit.
News of a civil suit surfaced this week, although Lambert filed a complaint against Robert Menchaca on May 5, online court records for Nevada's Clark County show. The case was lodged three days shy of the seventh anniversary of Plato's death, which was ruled a suicide.
The nature of the lawsuit is not clear from the citation. The case is listed as active, but there are no scheduled court dates.
However, citing court documents, the National Enquirer reports in its Sept. 18 edition that Lambert accuses Menchaca, who was with Plato on the day of her death, of contributing to the Diff'rent Strokes star's demise by not "giving immediate medical assistance or contacting medical personnel." The Enquirer says the wrongful death complaint was filed in Las Vegas.
Lambert's suit seeks more than $20,000 in damages, the tabloid said.
Lambert did not return a call seeking comment Monday. A message left at a number believed to be that of Menchaca's likewise was not returned.
Plato died May 8, 1999, in a suburb of Oklahoma City. She was 34. Authorities said she succumbed to an overdose of painkillers.
A day after an in-studio appearance in New York on Howard Stern's radio show, Plato was in Oklahoma for Mother's Day weekend--Lambert, then a teenager, lived there with his grandmother. She was found dead in a mobile home parked outside the Moore, Oklahoma, house of Menchaca's parents. Menchaca discovered the "unresponsive and cold-to-the-touch" Plato, police said.
"I suspected that she overdosed," Menchaca told reporters at the time, the Associated Press said.
The man's mother, a nurse, and his brother tried to revive Plato, initial reports said.
Lambert and Menchaca are no strangers to court tangles. Shortly after Plato's death, the two warred over ownership of the motor home where the actress died.
Lambert previously told the Enquirer that he had wanted police to reopen the case.
As a teenager, Plato costarred as good-girl Kimberly Drummond on Diff'rent Strokes. The offscreen woes of she and her two costars, Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges, served as fodder for last week's NBC made-for-TV movie, Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Diff'rent Strokes. According to Media Life, the show averaged just 4 million viewers, and dragged NBC down to a fifth-place finish for the night, behind ABC, CBS, Fox and the Spanish-language Univision.