Heath Ledger

George Pimentel/WireImage.com

A paparazzi agency wants no part of a lawsuit claiming its shutterbugs lured Heath Ledger into snorting cocaine on camera two years before his drug-fueled death.

Attorneys for Splash News are asking a judge to toss out the suit, filed by a woman identified only as Jane Doe. They claim there is not enough evidence to support some of her allegations, while other claims weren't filed before the statute of limitations expired.

The plaintiff has said she was working as a freelance reporter for People at the time and was dating one of the photographers named as a defendant. She claims that was also caught on the tape, which was shot in her hotel room without her consent, and is seeking damages for fraud, intrusion, infliction of emotional distress and privacy violations.

But the Splash attorneys say her face was "blurred out" in the footage and therefore her privacy could not have been violated. Further, they argue that other parts of her claim are bogus because she "has improperly attempted to assert the rights of a dead celebrity within her complaint."

A hearing on the motions is scheduled July 17, but Splash News lawyers also have filed papers requesting that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John P. Shook be removed from the case on grounds he is prejudiced against the agency. Such a move is a standard buying-time tactic in such cases; Shook was randomly assigned the case when it was filed April 11.

Per the suit, two Splash photogs were working an after-party at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont hotel following the SAG Awards in January 2006, where Ledger was up for Best Actor for his work in Brokeback Mountain.

According to the plaintiff's account of the incident, one of the photogs "gave Ledger a package of cocaine. Mr. Ledger also had some of his own. The cocaine was put on the table [in a hotel room reserved by the plaintiff], and the men began snorting cocaine."

Ledger did not know that the second Splash photographer was "outside our hotel room, on the balcony, hidden, shooting video footage of everyone in the room," the suit continues.

When he did discover he was being taped, Ledger got angry and he was promised the tape would be destroyed, the suit says.

A promise that apparently fell by the wayside—Entertainment Tonight and sister scandalmonger The Insider scooped up the rights to the footage for a reported $200,000 earlier this year, but they bowed to pressure from the Ledger camp and decided against airing the tape.

A rep for the actor, who died Jan. 22 of an accidental prescription drug overdose, has said that the video does not actually show Ledger using cocaine, although he mentions previous marijuana use.

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