Baldwin Loses $4,500, Wins Paparazzo War

Jury awards photographer tiny damage claim, but finds him negligent in dealing with the actor

By Daniel Frankel Jul 21, 1998 12:55 AMTags
It wasn't the same kind of resounding acquittal he got two years ago in his criminal battery trial for the notorious "shaving cream incident," but Alec Baldwin was pleased enough Monday to say "thank you" to jurors following the verdict in his civil trial over the encounter.

True, that same jury had just ruled that he should pay photographer Alan Zanger $6,000 for damages incurred during an October 1995 brawl between the two outside Baldwin's suburban Los Angeles home.

But that's chump change for Baldwin and essentially only a moral victory for Zanger, the ex-United Press International photographer turned paparazzo.

In deciding the somewhat complicated case--Zanger sued Baldwin for assault, the actor countersued for invasion of privacy--the jury decided that Zanger was 25 percent responsible for the incident. Thus, his $6,000 award was reduced to $4,500--a lot less than the $200,000-plus he was seeking for medical bills and lost wages.

Jurors, who deliberated for two days over the weekend, also determined that the Malice star didn't act with malice during the incident.

Baldwin wasn't awarded any damages for the negligence ruling, but the absence of malice verdict probably means he won't have to deal with Alan Zanger in a courtroom again. If the jury had ruled that Baldwin intentionally set out to hurt the cameraman, Zanger would have been eligible to sue for punitive damages.

Baldwin's lawyer said the actor was "ecstatic" over the outcome.

As for the widely reported incident, it took place in front of Baldwin's Woodland Hills, California, home, when he and wife Kim Basinger were bringing home their newborn baby girl from the hospital.

Baldwin approached the camper where Zanger was camped out and sprayed shaving cream over all the windows.

A scuffle ensued: Zanger says Baldwin punched him and broke his nose; the actor says he merely slapped the camera out of his hands.

In any event, the 40-year-old Baldwin took the stand last week and said he and Basinger feared for their lives when they noticed Zanger parked in front of their home. The actor added that the couple's special day was "irreparably ruined" by the altercation.

After the jury's verdict, Zanger said he was "sorry it happened on a day [the actor] was bringing his baby home."

Still, he has no plans on changing his method of operation. "I didn't jump in his face," the shutterbug said.