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Judge to Hear Eastwood Dispute Today

Times Staff Writer

Attorneys for Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke will go before a judge today in a closed hearing to discuss the potentially precedent-setting palimony suit Locke filed against the actor last month.

Two days before filing suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 26 for financial support, breach of contract, emotional distress and possession of personal property, Locke--who has been Eastwood’s companion of 13 years but is legally married to another man--attempted to settle the matter by asking for what her lawyers termed “a rather modest request.”

Locke’s settlement offer included a Bel-Air home that the couple had shared, another house in the Hollywood Hills that Eastwood allegedly bought for Locke and her husband, monthly payments of up to $15,000 and a lump sum of $250,000, according to legal documents.

Although Eastwood rejected the offer, its particulars will likely be discussed in today’s private hearing. Locke and Eastwood have hired a Superior Court judge, who will preside over the case. (The practice of hiring private judges, a relatively new twist in civil litigation, is becoming increasingly popular in high-profile divorce and contract disputes such as the Locke-Eastwood case.)

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Neither side has disclosed the name of the judge or the location of the hearing and, the proceedings have been closed to all but the participants. All legal documents in the case have been ordered sealed.

In a declaration filed last month, Locke said she was notified on April 10 while on the set of “Impulse,” a film she was directing, that the locks of their 5,000 square-foot Bel-Air house had been changed and all her belongings placed in storage.

A four-page letter written by Locke’s attorneys--and obtained this week by The Times--spelled out the specifics of the settlement offer and called Locke’s eviction “a blitzkrieg assault.”

In addition to the two houses--the tile-roofed Bel-Air house sold for $1,125,000 in 1980 and the price of the Hollywood Hills house was $300,000 in 1982--and the one-time payment of $250,000, the settlement offer asked for support payments of $15,000 per month for four years, tapering to $12,500 per month the fifth year, followed by $10,000 per month the sixth year, and $7,500 per month the seventh year.

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Area real-estate agents say the Bel-Air property is now worth more than $4 million, and the Hollywood Hills house about $1 million.

“It would have been easy and tempting to inflate Sondra’s settlement request for negotiating purposes (particularly in light of Clint’s wealth) or to be simply opportunistic; but it is not my style and not Sondra’s,” Locke’s attorney Norman S. Oberstein wrote in the letter.

“Our objective is neither to gather the last dollar nor to obtain a settlement in light of Clint’s substantial exposure and ability to pay; rather, it is to meet Sondra’s minimum expectations in light of a 13-year relationship, Clint’s promises and the emotional and economic time and effort Sondra put into the relationship and into the two real properties which she selected and developed,” the attorney said in the letter.

Eastwood’s media representative, Deborah Kelman, released this statement Tuesday: “We view it as highly improper for a correspondence between counsel, written in anticipation of litigation and containing settlement proposals, however inappropriate, to be disclosed to the media.

“This is especially true here, since the court has ordered the entire file to be placed under seal. As we said in our previous statement, the suited claims were unfounded and the requested settlement was categorically rejected. The filing of the lawsuit followed.

“There are no settlement discussions pending. We find it surprising that the letter would be released on the eve of an important court hearing. Mr. Eastwood, for his part, will litigate this case in court and not in the press.”

Locke has alleged in her legal papers that Eastwood bought the 5,000 square-foot Bel-Air home for her and told her to redecorate it as she pleased. She has also said that Eastwood bought the English-style Hollywood Hills home as a “gift” for her and her husband, West Hollywood sculptor Gordon Anderson, with whom, she says, she had an unconsummated marriage and a relationship “tantamount to sister and brother,” according to legal documents.


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