Angelina Jolie stunt double files first US lawsuit over UK phone hacking scandal
British stunt actress files first known case in US for wiretap of her phone in United Kingdom
Media giant News Corp has suffered a setback in its battle to contain the fallout from the British press phone hacking scandal, with the revelation of the first known US lawsuit.
British national Eunice Huthart, US actress Angelina Jolie's Hollywood stunt double, filed a suit on June 13 in Los Angeles accusing the company's now defunct News of the World of intercepting her voice mail messages.
Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire is already mired in a series of civil and criminal cases relating to phone hacking in Britain, but Huthart's case is thought to be the first to cross the Atlantic.
It comes at a delicate time for the US-based company, which is undergoing a split to divide its publishing and newspaper arm from its more profitable film and television brands.
In her lawsuit, Huthart believes her phone was hacked "as a means to get information about Ms Jolie".
The complaint, filed in a federal US court, seeks "maximum statutory actual damages" and punitive damages against News Corp, its News International and News Group Newspapers subsidiaries and 10 other unidentified individuals. The civil suit accuses the defendants of violating the US wiretap act, the stored communications act and invasion of privacy.
It said Huthart, who is the godmother of Jolie's first biological child, lost numerous phone messages in 2004 and 2005, including from Jolie, while working on such films as Mr & Mrs Smith.
Huthart's mobile phone number, account number and personal code appeared in the notes of Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed in Britain for six months in 2007 for intercepting phone messages at the request of News of the World.
Huthart, who is from the northern British city of Liverpool, said in the lawsuit that she met Jolie in 2000 and worked on films with her including Beyond Borders and Tomb Raider 2.
The case is the first known US litigation on the scandal, which forced Murdoch to shut down the News of the World and set aside millions to cover damages.