Clint Eastwood Pays Off Sondra Locke

Settlement ends a long, bitter suit

By Marcus Errico Sep 25, 1996 1:15 AMTags
After a half-dozen phone calls between their lawyers this weekend, Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke ended a year of legal wrangling by settling the multimillion-dollar fraud lawsuit that the actress filed against her former costar and lover.

The settlement comes after only one full day of jury deliberations--the closing arguments wrapped up last Thursday--and was announced just minutes before discussions were to resume today. One juror disclosed that the panel had agreed to find for Locke by a 10-to-2 vote (nine votes are needed for a verdict) and were only debating the amount. Jurors wanted to award the actress-director damages ranging from $15,000 to $10 million.

"We believe that it's very clear that the jury believes her. That was very important. Her rights have been vindicated," said Peggy Garrity, Locke's lawyer. While the terms of the settlement are confidential, Garrity did say it was a straight cash payment and involved no future deals. "I don't have to worry about working--let's put it that way," Locke said of the agreement.

Locke, who was noticeably haggard during the trial, was beaming at a press conference today. "I'm very happy with the settlement, but it wasn't about money; it was about closure," she said. Locke then plugged her new film, Do Me a Favor, starring Rosanna Arquette, which she hopes to debut at the Sundance festival next year.

Although Eastwood dismissed the lawsuit as "a dime-novel plot," his lawyer, Raymond Fisher, initiated the settlement talks. "It was quite satisfactory for Mr. Eastwood," said Fisher. "It allows both parties to end the war and get on with their lives." Eastwood was unavailable for comment.

The "war" began shortly after the 13-year romance between Locke and Eastwood ended. Locke filed a palimony suit in 1989 but agreed to drop the suit when Eastwood set up a $1.5 million deal with Warner Bros. for her to develop films.

However, that deal was a "sham," Locke claimed, because Eastwood secretly agreed to reimburse the studio for any losses incurred by her films. She testified that all 30 projects she took to the studio were turned down. Throughout the proceedings, Eastwood maintained that he was only trying to help Locke.

Apparently, the six-man, six-woman jury disagreed. "[Studio executives] were more concerned with keeping Eastwood happy than helping her," said jury forewoman Brenda Williams.