By Lauren Williams
3:26 PM PDT, November 1, 2012
A UC Irvine professor who claims she was injured by Johnny Depp's bodyguards can seek punitive damages against the actor, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled this week.
The professor, who teaches in the medical school, asserts that she was roughed up by Depp's bodyguards during a December 2011 Iggy and the Stooges concert at the Hollywood Palladium.
Robin A. Eckert, 53, claims Depp's bodyguards bear hugged her and attempted to take her iPhone.
The phone contained confidential information related to her work as a physician, and she alleges that the guards dragged her through the VIP area and dropped her to the ground.
It was unclear from the lawsuit why the guards wanted her phone.
Eckert could not be reached and her attorney declined to comment.
At some point during the dust-up the guards allegedly claimed to be off-duty police officers and showed Eckert a set of handcuffs and pretended to try and arrest her, grabbing her wrist and dragging her about 40 feet in the handcuffs, according to the lawsuit.
Depp's attorneys contend in court papers Eckert was hostile and provoked the alleged assault and therefore "consented to any assault and battery" she may have suffered.
Eckert assaulted Depp, and he had a reasonable fear for his safety and life, the attorneys argue.
In her lawsuit, Eckert, a mother of two, said she was on leave from her job at UCI because of a disability that left her walking with a cane and needing other walking assistance.
After the incident, she contends her existing conditions worsened, and she suffers from trauma, chronic pain and insomnia.
She also claims to have almost no mobility in her left hand, and a limited range of motion and soreness in an elbow dislocated in the incident.
The incident took place in a VIP area at the Palladium. Eckert attended the show with her husband and friends.
A jury trial date was set for Aug. 12.