UPDATE: Settlement deadline set in Morgan Freeman lawsuit

JACKSON — Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman and the woman who is suing him over a 2008 car accident must submit settlement proposals to a federal judge by July 15.

Demaris Meyer claims the 72-year-old Freeman was negligent when the car he was driving ran off the side of a rural highway near his Mississippi Delta home in August. Meyer was a passenger in the car when it flipped several times and landed upright. Meyer and Freeman were seriously injured.

Settlement deadlines are standard practice in federal civil cases, said Jack H. Hayes Jr., a Columbus attorney who represents Freeman in the lawsuit. He declined to comment Friday on specific allegations in the case.

Hayes has claimed in court papers that Meyer was partly to blame in the accident. He won’t elaborate on what that means.

Meyer’s attorneys did not immediately respond Friday to telephone and e-mail messages.

Meyer, who lives in Memphis, Tenn., sued Freeman in February for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, permanent disability and property damage. The lawsuit alleged Freeman had been drinking that night at the Bayou Bend Golf and Country Club and later at a friend’s house. No charges were filed.

U.S. Magistrate S. Allan Alexander has scheduled a July 29 conference in U.S. District Court in Oxford.

Meyer claims in the lawsuit that Bill Luckett, Freeman’s friend, business partner and lawyer, invited her to a party Aug. 3, 2008, at the country club. The group allegedly later went to Luckett’s home. Luckett and Freeman are partners in the Ground Zero Blues Club and the upscale Madidi restaurant in Clarksdale.

The crash happened shortly before midnight when Freeman was driving Meyer’s 1997 Nissan Maxima back to his house in Charleston. Meyer has said Freeman offered to let her stay that night at one of three houses on his property.

The lawsuit deals only with the car accident, but Meyer complained soon after it was filed that she was wrongly “labeled as the other woman” and “accused of having caused the breakup of Mr. Freeman’s marriage.” She said Freeman and his representatives failed to “set the record straight” and clear her name.

Soon after the accident, Luckett told reporters that Freeman and his wife, Myrna Colley-Lee, had been separated since December 2007 and were getting a divorce. The divorce is filed in Tallatchie Chancery Court, though it is under seal and not open to the public, a court official said Friday.

Freeman won an Oscar for his performance in 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby” and co-starred in last summer’s “The Dark Knight.” His screen credits also include “Bruce Almighty,” ”The Shawshank Redemption” and “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Holbrook Mohr/The Associated Press

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