A woman who sued Kevin Hart for allegedly secretly recording them having consensual sex in 2017 and using the video for commercial reasons can take most of her claims against the comedian to trial, a judge ruled Friday.
Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Shirley K. Watkins denied a motion by the 43-year-old Hart’s attorneys to dismiss plaintiff Montia Sabbag’s $60 million suit, which alleges negligence and invasion of privacy. Hart’s lawyers maintained there were no triable issues.
After hearing arguments Friday, the judge briefly took the case under submission before issuing her final ruling. Trial is scheduled for Oct. 17.
In her suit refiled in Superior Court in April 2020 after it was dismissed in federal court, Sabbag alleges that Hart knew their intimate encounter in his hotel room at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in August 2017 was being recorded and that he used the publicity it generated to promote his “Irresponsible Tour” as well as to increase his overall pop culture status.
In a separate ruling, the judge dismissed all of Sabbag’s claims, including negligence and invasion of privacy, against Hart’s former friend, Jonathan “JT” Jackson.
Jackson was originally charged with trying to extort money from Hart, but the criminal case was dismissed last fall.
Sabbag had alleged Hart had allowed Jackson access to the comedian’s hotel room and that the two men conspired to record the sexual encounter. Hart has maintained that he had no idea that there was a camera taping his 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,” Hart said in a sworn declaration in which he also maintained he “did not conspire with anyone to record or videotape” the plaintiff.
But in her tentative ruling issued Thursday, Watkins said there is a triable issue as to whether defendant Hart knew there was a camera recording, based upon Sabbag’s own sworn declaration in which the plaintiff said the comedian moved or adjusted the mirror in his bedroom prior to the intimate encounter.
Watkins further wrote that Sabbag additionally said in her declaration that 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 Sabbag says she saw Hart move and adjust before their intimacy.