Puffy Settles Stampede Suit – Payoff is Last Chapter Of ’91 Tragedy [2000-05-25]

Laura Italiano and Eric Lenkowitz [New York Post]

Sean “Puffy” Combs agreed to pay a secret settlement yesterday to a Bronx secretary caught in a stampede at a City College charity basketball game the rap mogul sponsored in 1991. The settlement closed the last of nearly a dozen suits seeking damages against rapper Combs, co-promoter Heavy D and the college in connection with the tragic event in which nine people died and 29 were injured.

Just how much Combs must pay Nicole Levy, 25, was kept secret under the terms of the settlement. But Levy’s lawyer had called Combs’ initial offer of $50,000, made two years ago, “not realistic.”

Levy had sought $2 million from the rapper – claiming the stress of seeing her best friend crushed in the stampede caused her to contract Graves disease.

The state Supreme Court trial on her lawsuit had just concluded a second day of jury selections when the settlement was reached. Opening statements were due to begin in the case Tuesday, after some seven years of pretrial proceedings and delays.

“It remains clear that Nicole Levy’s case is without merit,” said Combs’ lawyer Luke Pittoni.

“Rather than have protracted litigation, we have come to an acceptable resolution and are very pleased with the outcome.”

Combs had faced a tough trial – and the public airing of embarrassing details from the oversold, underinsured event. A Court of Claims judge last year condemned the rapper for “squashing out life’s breath from young bodies.”

Lawyers for Levy, who has never spoken publicly, had promised to call to the stand a Graves disease expert originally employed as an expert by Combs’ team – until his research led him to conclude Levy’s illness was probably linked to stress from the stampede of people trying to get into the game.

“She exhibited symptoms almost immediately,” one of Levy’s lawyers, Benedict Morelli, said after a pretrial hearing last week. “Her friend was killed only a few feet away from her – trampled to death.”

Another of her lawyers, Peter De Filippis, said last night, “Nicole is glad to put this behind her.”

Still, her Graves disease – a life-shortening thyroid condition – has resulted in weight fluctuations, vision problems and other difficulties, De Filippis had said prior to the settlement.

Combs’ team contended that Levy was diagnosed with Graves disease four years after the stampede – too distant in time to be linked to the tragedy.

The problem-plagued promoter – currently under indictment for gun and bribery raps – declined to talk about the settlement last night.

Link to the actual article: https://nypost.com/2000/05/25/puffy-settles-stampede-suit-payoff-is-last-chapter-of-91-tragedy/