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August 03, 2018

Plaintiff Denied Early Discovery In Martha's Vineyard Lawsuit

BOSTON, Mass.—U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley yesterday denied Leah Bassett, owner of a house on Martha's Vineyard that's at the center of a hard-fought lawsuit, early access to the identities of any third parties who may have been present while adult production was taking place at her house back in 2014-2015. The judge's decision was based on the fact that both sides in the dispute had agreed to a discovery schedule, and the defendants are not required to reveal that information until September 20, the agreed-upon deadline. The suit, which was begun in March of 2018, charges that Mile High Media, its in-house distribution company and two of its other distributors—TLA Distribution and ChargePay B.V.—as well as director Nica Noelle and some of her actors and staff, rented Bassett's house on Martha's Vineyard Island in October of 2014 with the intention of using it as a base to shoot adult features for Mile High's Icon Male and TransSensual lines without informing Bassett of their intended use. Moreover, Bassett claims that the commercial lensing violated the town's zoning laws and also violated her copyright by allowing some of her personally created artworks to appear in the finished features. Bassett, who reportedly spent the winter months of 2014-15 away from her Massachusetts residence, rented the home to Joshua Darling, an employee of Noelle's, as a "winter vacation rental," but after Darling missed the March 2015 rental payment, Bassett asked her parents to pay a visit to the house, which they later said was in a "deplorable state," and where they discovered Noelle and two male performers unpacking groceries. Noelle informed Bassett's mother that Darling was no longer in her employ, but that she would continue paying the rent. However, the elder Bassett asked Noelle to return the key and vacate the property, which she did. Leah Bassett returned to her house in May of 2015, and at some point discovered that it had been the site of adult filming, and soon thereafter began an "admittedly somewhat obsessive" internet search to try to track down which features had been filmed at the house, compiling a list of those features and identifying their distributors. Ms. Bassett also claimed to have needed to "engage[] the services of a mental health therapist for the first time in her adult life ... in an effort to help her cope with the emotionally and psychologically traumatizing effects" of the filming—which she had not personally observed. However, it was not until March of 2018 that she filed suit over the issues. The suit is scheduled for mediation before a federal magistrate before the end of 2018, and if that does not resolve the issues, the case is scheduled to be ready for trial by July 30, 2019.

 
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