Woman's Parents Hope to Keep Alive Wrongful Death Claim Against Producer

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Hollywood film producer Joel Silver, whose personal assistant died during a 2015 trip to Bora Bora, cannot escape liability for the actions of his chef in allegedly plying the woman with alcohol and drugs before she drowned, her parents' attorneys argue in new court papers.

Silver was in Bora Bora for the honeymoon party of actors Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, who have since divorced, when the nude body of his 28-year-old assistant, Carmel Musgrove, was found floating in a lagoon near the Four Seasons hotel at 1 a.m. on Aug. 20, 2015.

Autopsies in French Polynesia and in San Diego County, where Musgroves' parents live, concluded that the likely cause of death was drowning with drugs and alcohol as contributing factors, along with fatigue and heat stroke.

Ronald and Ann Musgrove brought their Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit in August 2017, alleging that their daughter had been overworked and furnished with cocaine during the trip by Silver's chef, Martin Herold, with whom she was allegedly in a romantic relationship.

“Silver arranged and paid for Herold to arrive before the rest of the party in order to have the meal preparation ready when Silver, his family and guests arrived,'' according to court papers filed last Wednesday by the Musgroves' attorneys. “Herold was expected to prepare dinners and lunches, shop for necessary food items and perform related tasks throughout the stay in Bora Bora.''

Herold was sued along with Silver, Silver Pictures and Silver-Katz Holdings. The Musgroves settled the part of the case against Silver Pictures and Silver-Katz Holdings in January 2020 and Silver is no longer with Silver Pictures, the production company he founded in 1980 that co-produced the “Lethal Weapon,'' “Matrix'' and “Sherlock Holmes'' film franchises.

In a sworn declaration submitted in November in support of dismissing the part of the case against him, Silver denied having any liability for Herold's alleged actions regarding Musgrove and he maintained his practice is to promote and maintain a drug-free working environment.

“Mr. Herold was not acting within the course and scope of his employment as my family's personal chef during the Bora Bora trip at the time Mr. Herold and Ms. Musgrove allegedly consumed alcohol and drugs prior to her death, and when Ms. Musgrove allegedly went swimming in the lagoon at night near her bungalow at the Four Seasons Hotel during the Bora Bora trip,'' Silver said. “Mr.  Herold was not acting as my employee or agent at that time.''

Silver further said he did not “promote any dangerous activities'' during the trip, including alcohol and drug consumption or swimming in a lagoon late at night during unfavorable weather conditions.

“Thus, I did not create any conditions that placed Ms. Musgrove in peril or danger during the Bora Bora trip, or at any other time, which allegedly resulted in her drowning,'' Silver said.

But according to her parents' court papers, ample evidence exists that Herold's actions with Musgrove were within the scope of his employment with Silver.

“It is clear that Silver's established custom and practice was for his staff and employees to accompany him on his vacations to perform work for him and that they were expected to engage in recreation while on the trip,'' their court papers state. “The trip to Bora Bora was not the first family vacation on which Silver brought both Herold and Musgrove. Silver typically took two family vacations per year and would routinely bring Musgrove and Herold on such vacations.''

On previous trips to Bora Bora, Silver arranged for Herold to stay at the Bora Bora Hilton instead of at the Four Seasons with the rest of his group, according to the plaintiffs' court papers.

“On this occasion, however, Silver had Herold stay at the Four Seasons, a decision that was obviously made for Silver's own benefit and convenience so that Herold would be easily available when needed,'' the plaintiffs' attorneys allege.

A hearing on Silver's motion to dismiss the part of the case against him is scheduled for Feb. 10 before Judge Dennis Landin.

Photo: Getty Images

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