Unclean hands doctrine means Lady Gaga won’t have to pay promised $500K reward for dogs
Lady Gaga’s French bulldogs Gustav and Koji were recovered safely, but her dog walker was shot and injured during the theft. (Photo by zz/RE/Westcom/STAR MAX/IPx via AP)
Lady Gaga doesn’t have to pay a promised $500,000 reward for the safe return of her stolen French bulldogs to a woman arrested in connection with the theft.
Judge Hollie J. Fujie of Los Angeles Superior Court ruled against the woman seeking the reward, Jennifer McBride, in a July 10 opinion. Fujie cited the unclean hands doctrine. TMZ appeared to be first with the news. Insider and Billboard were among the publications that followed with coverage.
Lady Gaga’s dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was shot and wounded when the two dogs were stolen in February 2021. McBride was arrested when she turned in the dogs at a police station.
McBride later pleaded no contest to knowingly receiving stolen property and was sentenced to probation. Four others were also arrested in connection with the crime, including an alleged shooter who later pleaded no contest to attempted murder.
Lady Gaga had promised to pay the reward with “no questions asked” but didn’t follow through, according to McBride’s suit. Fujie said McBride can’t benefit from her wrongdoing by seeking to enforce the promise.
“The unclean hands doctrine demands that a plaintiff act fairly in the matter for which he seeks a remedy,” Fujie wrote. The doctrine “is an equitable rationale for refusing a plaintiff relief where principles of fairness dictate that the plaintiff should not recover, regardless of the merits of their claim.”
Fujie also pointed out that the law banning receipt of stolen property allows injured parties to file a civil suit for damages. This provision would negate McBride’s potential damages because she would have to pay restitution to Lady Gaga.
Fujie gave McBride a chance to amend her lawsuit within 20 days.