A judge said in a tentative ruling that the widow of a man who died when he was run over by a pickup truck allegedly driven by Marion “Suge” Knight can move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit against the former rap music mogul while Knight’s criminal case is underway.
Lillian Carter, the widow of Terry Carter, filed the wrongful death lawsuit June 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court against Knight, Universal Studios Inc., and rappers Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. The 55-year-old Terry Carter was killed after being hit by a pickup truck allegedly driven by Knight during a Jan. 29 confrontation in the parking lot of Tam’s Burgers in Compton, where the hit movie “Straight Outta Compton” was being filmed.
In his preliminary decision issued Monday, Judge Howard Halm denied a motion by attorneys for Knight to put the civil case on hold until the criminal proceedings are concluded. The defense attorneys argued that Knight’s Fifth Amendment rights, which protect him against self-incrimination, could be jeopardized, if depositions and other discovery are allowed to take place in the civil case.
But Halm said that on balance, it was more fair to allow the civil case to proceed, noting the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ counter-argument that Knight can be deposed without being forced to answer questions that might negatively affect his rights in the criminal case.
“Similarly, plaintiffs contend they will suffer prejudice if this action is stayed because resolution of this case will help them recover financially and emotionally,’’ Halm wrote. “The court also notes that if this action is stayed, plaintiffs will be unable to conduct discovery in connection with the other seven defendants named in the complaint until Knight’s criminal case is completed.’’
Halm was scheduled to hear arguments from attorneys Tuesday before issuing a final decision.
“Straight Outta Compton’’ chronicles the rise of the gangster rap group N.W.A, which included Dr. Dre and Ice Cube as members. Carter’s suit alleges Universal was negligent by continuing filming in Compton after Dre warned the producers to keep Knight away.
Knight, 50, is the co-founder of Death Row Records. He has pleaded not guilty to murder in Terry Carter’s death.