Former Husband of BH Housewife Not Asked to Arbitrate Claims Against Employee

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos says she wants more time before making the ruling permanent.

Adrienne Maloof and Paul Nassif.
Adrienne Maloof and Paul Nassif.
By City News Service

A judge tentatively ruled Thursday that the former husband of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast member Adrienne Maloof does not have to arbitrate his claims that an employee of his ex-wife defamed him on Facebook with spousal abuse allegations.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos, however, said she wanted more time before making the ruling permanent and took a motion by chef Bernie Guzman to force arbitration of Dr. Paul Nassif's allegations under submission.

Palazuelos said her tentative ruling was based on Nassif never signing an employment agreement. But Guzman attorney Philip Marchiondo argued that Nassif's signature was less important than his conduct. He said the physician forced Guzman to sign and agree to the employment terms, which Marchiondo says included an arbitration provision.

Nassif sued Bernie Guzman on Feb. 4 after the chef posted photos of a bruised Maloof on his Facebook page in October. Guzman alleged the bruises demonstrated physical abuse of Maloof by Nassif.

Nassif denied the abuse allegations. In addition to defamation, the suit alleges civil extortion/blackmail and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He dropped a breach-of-contract claim.

Nassif wants unspecified punitive damages and an injunction to prevent Guzman from making any more statements about him.

In a sworn declaration, Guzman says that "on numerous occasions ... I personally witnessed (Nassif) verbally and physically abuse and batter his wife, Ms. Maloof, their three children and the family dog. I witnessed (Nassif) verbally abuse the household employees as well."

Guzman states he was hired by Maloof and Nassif in August 2005 and was an employee of both. He says he was put in charge of events ranging from entertaining guests to family functions. He says he also helped manage the household.

Guzman says Nassif gave him an employment agreement in February 2012 that included "a variety of policies" as well as an agreement to arbitrate disputes between himself and his employers.

"(Nassif) insisted that I sign the employment agreement," Guzman says. "He informed me that if I refused to sign the employment agreement, I would be terminated."

Guzman says he was not given a copy of the agreement.

The chef also says that after Nassif filed for divorce in July, he continued living at the home he shared with Maloof on a part-time basis for several months.

Nassif's suit states that Guzman's abuse accusations are "outrageous and vicious lies." In his own declaration, Nassif states he "never signed any document in which I agreed to arbitrate any claim or dispute with (Guzman)."

The doctor also claims that the allegations in his lawsuit have nothing to do with Guzman's employment agreement.

Nassif's court papers state that Guzman sent him a text message in January and threatened to damage the doctor's reputation by writing, "Have you forgotten I witnessed you beat your wife? I have plenty of family photos ... some not so pretty."

Guzman still works for Maloof, Marchiondo said.


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