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'The Birds' Star Tippi Hedren Sues Lawyer, Wins $1.5M

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

Actress Tippi Hedren, known best as the striking protagonist in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," has won a $1.5 million award in a malpractice lawsuit against her Santa Barbara lawyer.

Believe it or not, the case involves a bird's nest (sort of).

Part II: Revenge of the Birds

In 2006, Hedren took a role in the short-lived soap "Fashion House." One day in rehearsal, a gallon of water fell from the ceiling onto her head.

According to the The Hollywood Reporter, there's speculation that a bird's nest was blocking a condensation tube in the air conditioning system. Perhaps it was an attempt by Hitchcock to make a sequel from beyond the grave?

Anyway, Hedren had previously suffered from headaches but successfully treated them. Unfortunately, with the water accident, her headaches returned with a vengeance.

She retained attorney Joseph Allen to file a personal injury lawsuit against the owner and lessee of the soundstage. Then came the "malpractice horror" plot twist.

Statute of Limitations

Hedren's initial personal injury lawsuit was dismissed. Sadly, she couldn't refile her case because of a critical error made by her attorney regarding the statute of limitations.

Under a legal rule known as the statute of limitations, any lawsuit arising from an accident or injury must be filed within a certain time limit or the injured person's legal claim will be barred and his or her right to sue will be lost forever.

Allen failed to obtain an agreement by the defendants to toll -- which means to suspend -- the statute of limitations. Without that agreement, her case was still subject to the statute of limitations. As a result, by the time the lawsuit was refiled, the defendants successfully defeated it by arguing that it came too late, according to THR.

Malpractice Lawsuit

In 2009, Hedren sued Allen for malpractice for negligently failing to file paperwork by a deadline. She sued for all the money she reasonably could have expected to have recovered in the prior lawsuit had her attorney acted competently. That figure added up to one pretty penny: nearly $1.5 million.

The jury calculated the figure by examining Hedren's lost and future lost wages. A jury returned a verdict totaling $1,483,708, which included $213,400 for past lost earnings and $440,308 for future lost earnings.

The lesson: Don't mess with Melanie Daniels.

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