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Omar Sharif sued over parking punch-up

Screen legend Omar Sharif was sued by a US parking attendant who claims the actor committed a hate crime by punching him and hurling racial slurs in an argument over payment.
None | By AFP, Los Angeles
PUBLISHED ON OCT 25, 2005 07:35 PM IST

Screen legend Omar Sharif was sued on Monday by a US parking attendant who claims the actor committed a hate crime by punching him and hurling racial slurs in an argument over payment, a lawyer said.

Sharif, 75, the star of classic films including 1965's "Doctor Zhivago" and 1962's "Lawrence of Arabia," allegedly flew into a rage after the valet parker at a chic Los Angeles restaurant refused to accept payment in euros instead of in dollars, the attendant's lawyer said.

"Today I filed a lawsuit against Omar Sharif, the actor, who violated the California hate crimes statute by assaulting and battering my client and calling him a 'stupid Mexican'," attorney John Carpenter said.

"He (Sharif) wanted to pay for his valet parking service in euros and my client does not feel he was able to accept a payment in euros," he said of the June 11 incident outside Mastro's restaurant in Beverly Hills.

Guatemalan-born Juan Anderson claims the Egyptian-born Sharif punched him in the side of the head, drawing blood, after the argument over currency and then repeatedly called him a "stupid Mexican."

Sharif, who according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court had been drinking heavily during his 500 dollar dinner with a group of friends, allegedly tried to pay for the parking service with a 20 euro note.

When Anderson said he could not accept foreign currencies, Sharif allegedly became belligerent. After the valet helped Sharif into his Porsche Cayenne Sports Utility Vehicle, the valet said: "Good night. I'm sorry you talk too much about me," according to the lawsuit.

Sharif then allegedly got out of the car and punched Anderson with a closed fist while shouting "anti-Latino" racial epithets.

"Horrified by Mr Sharif's grotesque and illegal acts of racial violence, the restaurant instructed the film star to await the police's arrival," the complaint said.

Through members of his party, Sharif then allegedly offered Anderson 50 dollars "to pretend the attack did not happen," the complaint said.

When the parking attendant refused and told them to wait for the police, the film star's driver then lurched the Porsche at Anderson as he tried to block the vehicle's path, the suit claimed.

Anderson, 48, who ears 6.75 dollar per hour as a valet parker, is seeking 50,000 dollars in civil penalties as well as unspecified punitive damages and damages for Anderson's injuries.

Representatives for Sharif, a legendary gambler and bon viveur who also starred in the hit in the hit 2003 French film "Monsieur Ibrahim," could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Sharif in 2001 was given a one-month suspended prison sentence for head-butting a police officer in a casino near Paris.

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