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Resort Claims Comic Has Problem with Drugs, Alcohol

ROBERT MACYAugust 22, 1990

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Caesars Palace attorneys say they will present evidence that comedian Rodney Dangerfield has ″severe problems with cocaine, marijuana and alcohol abuse″ when his lawsuit against the resort goes to trial.

An attorney for Dangerfield called the allegations ″a joke.″

The civil trial is scheduled to begin Monday in U.S. District Court here.

Dangerfield and his Paperclip Productions Inc. of New York are seeking $225,000 in damages from Caesars. The resort has filed a breach of contract countersuit against its former headliner for $100,000 plus punitive damages.

Dangerfield sued the resort because of a March 16, 1988 incident in which he said he suffered eye damage after being scalded by a burst of steam when entering a steam room behind the hotel’s showroom.

In documents filed with the court Monday, the resort’s attorney, Jill R. Cohen, wrote that the steam didn’t cause Dangerfield’s eye problems. The brief blames Dangerfield’s lifestyle, and his use of a certain type of eyedrops despite warnings to the contrary.

The document said one witness will testify that at a party after the alleged incident, Dangerfield, 64, was ″so intoxicated from drugs and alcohol that he literally passed out face first in a plate of food.″

″There will be substantial evidence that Mr. Dangerfield has severe problems with cocaine, marijuana and alcohol abuse, that he swills vodka by the tumblerful, smokes marijuana from morning to night and is a regular user of cocaine,″ the trial document stated.

″Medical opinion testimony will demonstrate that such abuses significantly contribute to Mr. Dangerfield’s eye conditions,″ the document said.

Dangerfield’s attorney, Barry Langberg, disputed the allegations.

″Rodney has denied them and I have never seen him use drugs,″ Landberg said Tuesday. ″We’ve heard the allegations of drug use and malingering before and they are totally contrary to Rodney’s performance record.

″Mr. Dangerfield has an excellent history of keeping his engagements. The only recent performances he has missed have been the ones at Caesars because their negligence caused his eye injuries and at Bally’s (in Las Vegas) because he wouldn’t cross the picket lines during the musicians strike.″

Dangerfield filed the lawsuit in 1988, claiming his eyes were injured so severely that he had to cancel five performances at Caesars. Dangerfield, who is paid $45,000 per show, according to court documents, was paid $135,000 for performing three times during the week-long run.

The trial brief contends Dangerfield isn’t entitled to be paid for performances he says he missed because of the injury. The Ceasars’ brief alleged he gambled at a competing hotel one night when he missed a performance. On another night, the document says, he attended a boxing match at Caesars, sitting in a front row seat in public view while the resort had to announce he could not perform because of an injury.

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