Actor Gary Coleman’s four-year legal battle with his parents and a former manager ended yesterday when a Santa Monica Superior Court judge awarded him $ 1 ,280,522 and ruled that the three had wrongfully profited as his guardians and managers during five years while he was a minor.
The award, rendered by Judge Hiroshi Fujiksaki, was to make up for excessive commissions, salaries, fees and pension distribution paid to W.G. and Edmonia Sue Coleman and to Anita DeThomas from April 1, 1982, through Dec. 31, 1987.
The actor, 25, sued his parents in 1989, charging they had stolen more than $ 1 million from him. His parents and DeThomas countersued for defamation and breach of contract.
Judge Fujisaki’s ruling yesterday settled Coleman’s legal battles, although the cross-complaints from his parents and from DeThomas have yet to be settled.
“I’m extremely pleased with this morning’s judgment,” Coleman said in a prepared release. “This suit has been an enormous burden to me over the past four years. I’m happy that it is at last behind me and I’m anxious to now redirect my attention to my career.”
Coleman most recently guest-starred on Fox’s “The Ben Stiller Show.” He starred on “Diff’rent Strokes” from 1977-84.
His publicist, Michael Gerety, said that in recent years, lawsuits and problems with Coleman’s health have plagued the former child actor’s career. Coleman was born with failed kidneys and has undergone several transplant operations.
Gerety said Coleman’s health is now good and that his client is looking forward to restarting his career with a “clean slate.”
Gerety said, “The judgment confirms what Gary has been saying all along. All he has wanted is fair treatment from the people who handled his money when he was a minor. He has not received fair treatment and he has not received a fair accounting until now.”
At the height of his seven-year tenure starring as Arnold, on “Diff’rent Strokes,” Coleman reportedly was earning $ 64,000 per week.