*In August 2017, comedian Kevin Hart had consensual sex with a woman named Montia Sabbag in a hotel room at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It later emerged that the whole encounter was secretly being recorded. According to the woman, Kevin Hart knew about the recording and later used the video for commercial reasons.
Sabbag sued the 43-year-old comedian for $60 million for negligence and invasion of privacy. On Friday, and after hearing arguments and briefly taking the case under submission, Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Shirley K. Watkins ruled that the woman can take most of her claims to trial.
The judge, at the same time, ruled against a motion by Hart’s attorneys to dismiss Sabbag’s suit because it had no triable issues.
The trial is set to start on October 17.
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Sabbag’s case was dismissed in federal court at first, but she refiled it in Superior Court in April 2020. She alleged that Hart was well aware that their sexual encounter in his room was being recorded. She also alleges he then used the publicity generated by the video to promote his “Irresponsible Tour” and to boost his overall pop culture status.
However, in a separate ruling, the judge dismissed all of Sabbag’s claims, including those against Hart’s former friend Jonathan “JT” Jackson, whom she also sued for negligence and invasion of privacy.
You might recall that Jackson was originally charged with trying to extort money from Hart, but the criminal case was dismissed last fall. Meanwhile, in her suit, Sabbat claims that Hart gave Jackson access to the comedian’s hotel room, where the two men planned how to record the sexual encounter.
But Hart has maintained he had no idea that a camera was in his hotel room filming his intimate encounter with Sabbag.
“I did not participate in any videotaping or recording of Sabbag, either while she and I were engaged in sexual relations or at any other time, nor do I know who did,” he said in a sworn declaration. In the same declaration, he also insisted he “did not conspire with anyone to record or videotape” the plaintiff.
Sabbag, in her sworn declaration, maintains that Hart moved or adjusted the mirror in his bedroom before she and he had sex. She further says the sex tape appears to show that the recording device was placed in front of the bed in Hart’s bedroom and that it seemed to be reflecting off the same mirror that Hart had adjusted and moved prior to their intimacy.
According to Judge Watkins, it is these allegations by the plaintiff that moved her to rule there is a triable issue.