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Lawyer sues 'The Bachelor' producers over damage to Malibu estate during filming

By Wade Paulsen, 09/23/2003 

Would you like your house to be used for a reality TV show? Before you decide, meet Kenneth Chyten, an L.A. lawyer. The Smoking Gun reports that Chyten and his wife Marci are suing Warner Brothers, the producers of ABC's The Bachelor 4, regarding the damage done to their $4.5 million Malibu estate (which they call "Oceanview Manor") during filming there.

The Chytens claim that Warner Brothers drilled holes in walls without their knowledge or consent during filming, failed to return their furniture to the house when production was over, and "left trash and debris strewn in and around the house." Among the trash, according to the lawsuit, were "cigarette butts, used matches, plastic bags, plastic bottles, junk food boxes, plastic wrappers, and personal hygiene items that were apparently used by female contestants."

The crux of the Chytens' claim, though, is that the house became infested with rodents and black widow spiders during the production. They allege that two people required hospitalization for black widow spider bites during the production. This was the root of all subsequent problems, as the Chytens demanded that the house be fumigated for spiders and cleared of rodents prior to the return of their furniture. However, according to the lawsuit, Warner Brothers told them that, if they refused to take the furniture back once production was complete, regardless of the rodents and spiders, then the cost of a later furniture move would be the Chytens' responsibility -- which is what ultimately happened.

The Chytens also state that a helicopter that Warner Brothers used in the filming "so alienated the neighbors that the neighbors will never agree to permit permit the Chytens to again rent out the House for any commercial event." The Chytens had been trying to sell the house because Marci was pregnant with twins, and they needed more space to accomodate their growing family, which also includes a prior set of twins. (Apparently a $4.5 million home that could house The Bachelor cast isn't large enough for the 6-member Chyten family.) Because the house was "uninhabitable" after The Bachelor finished shooting, Marci suffered "severe anguish and emotional distress" during her pregnancy, adding to their injuries.

In addition to actual damages, which the Chytens do not estimate in the lawsuit, the Chytens have requested the court to award them punitive damages (to punish Warner Brothers) in the amount of $5 million. That seems like a lot of punishment for damages to an estate worth only $4.5 million.

So, did Warner Brothers seriously damage the Chytens' house? The issue turns on the rodent and black widow spider infestations. If Warners allowed the house to become infested, then it grievously wronged the Chytens. But did it?

According to the lawsuit, the black widow spiders were in the garage and entered the house through holes drilled in the wall during production. Both alleged spider bites occurred in the garage. We can't help but wonder, though, whether the spiders may already have been in the garage at the time that the Chytens rented the house to Warner Brothers. We also wonder if spiders that were in the garage would be content to stay there. Similarly, we wonder if a rodent infestation that took "months to eradicate," as the lawsuit says, could actually have happened in just the 30 days that Warner Brothers had possession of the house. We're looking forward to hearing Warner Brothers tell its side of the story.

We also note the irony of black widow spiders - noted not just for their venom but also because the females kill and eat their mates - visiting the set of The Bachelor 4. Maybe the spiders wanted to pick up a few pointers from the bachelorettes.

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