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"We want to let the dust settle and then make the motion to dismiss. There's absolutely no merit [to the lawsuits]."
——civil attorney Luke Pittoni

PUFFY MAY FARE WELL IN CIVIL SUITS AS WELL

And We’re Not Talkin’ About Those Swell Threads He Was Wearing During The Trial
Thanks to his acquittal on criminal charges stemming from the December 1999 Club New York shootings (hitsdailydouble.com, 3/16), rap impresario Sean "Puffy" Combs should be able to slip past the slew of civil suits currently filed against him as well, reports SonicNet.com.

"We want to let the dust settle and then make the motion to dismiss," said Puffy's civil attorney Luke Pittoni. "There's absolutely no merit [to the lawsuits]." Although Pittoni added that he and Combs are ready to go to court to fight the suits if necessary.

The multimillion dollar suits include those filed by shooting victims Natania Reuben, Julius Jones and Robert Thompson (who don't accuse Combs of shooting them, but do blame him for indirectly causing their injuries); Combs' driver Wardel Fenderson; and Club New York owner Michael Bergos.

According to SonicNet, two of the lawyers behind those suits have shown no intention of backing down, despite the jury rejecting claims that Combs was involved in the shooting.

"Mr. Fenderson believes what was done to him was wrong," said Fenderson's lawyer Lawrence Bernstein. "He's ready to go forward and have his day in court."

While Fenderson testified that he saw Combs with a gun before entering the club and that Combs tried to bribe him to claim ownership of the gun found in the Lincoln Navigator he was driving that night, his suit focuses only on the flight from police after the shooting, which Fenderson claims caused him emotional distress.

Expressing the thought occurring to us as we wrote this story, Pittoni dismissed Fenderson's claim as ridiculous. "What is the mental distress of driving 11 blocks?" he asked, obviously never having spent two hours on the 405 on a Friday afternoon.

The civil suits may have helped Combs case during the trial, as they allowed his lawyers to posit Jones, Reuben and Fenderson as golddiggers, hoping to profit from testifying against Combs.

"I've matured. This whole thing has made me deeper," Combs told Time magazine. "It's not what it was about before."

In a statement released Monday (3/19), Combs called his trial, "The most difficult time in my life." He added, "I feel truly blessed that this ordeal is over."

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