L.A. Clippers Owner Must Pay Actress for Apartment Fire

L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been ordered by a jury to pay $17.3 million to an actress who lived in a building owned by Sterling that caught fire.

Actress Robyn Cohen, who has had roles in “The Life Aquatic” with Steve Zissou and, ironically, the thriller “Burned,” claimed the fire in the West Hollywood apartment caused emotional turmoil that hurt her career.

The fire was reportedly caused by an electrical problem. Cohen claims she was in the middle of reading scripts for the cable series “Gravity” when she heard a noise, then went into the hallway where she discovered smoke and called 911.

Cohen’s attorney Melissa Yoon blamed Sterling who, besides owning the NBA team, also owns 130 buildings in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit for breach of contract, breach of warranty of habitability and intentional infliction of emotional distress alleged Sterling failed to maintain proper smoke detectors in the building.

Sterling’s attorney, Guy Gruppie, said Sterling delegated operations to his staff.

He also cast doubt on Cohen’s claim that the fire caused her acting career to suffer.

“She is able to work, and she is doing well. The truth is Ms. Cohen’s career is thriving,” Gruppie said.

Attorney Melissa Yoon headshot

Attorney Melissa Yoon

A psychiatrist testified at trial that the actress, who has also recently starred in episodes of “The Closer” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” that her post-traumatic stress disorder had developed into a permanent bipolar condition.

After the jury awarded Cohen $17.3 million, attorney Yoon of the law firm Katz, Henri & Yoon, told the Hollywood Reporter that the verdict sends a message to landlords everywhere.

“[All] landlords need to take responsibility for the safety of their properties and the families who depend on fire alarm systems working properly. We hope that this verdict motivates all landlords to make safety the top priority,” she said.



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