A Los Angeles judge ruled again Monday that Lady Gaga was not obligated to pay a $500,000 reward for the return of her stolen French bulldogs to the same woman who was criminally charged over the incident.
Doubling down on an earlier decision to toss the case, Judge Holly Fujie dismissed a breach of contract case filed by Jennifer McBride, who pleaded no contest in December to receiving stolen property in connection with the 2021 robbery, in which Gaga’s dog walker Ryan Fischer was shot and nearly killed.
After the judge had given McBride a chance to fix her case, her lawyer argued that she was “in no way involved” with the theft of the dog and only wanted to help the animals. But in Monday’s decision, Judge Fujie said she was unswayed.
“Although plaintiff alleges that her motivation was to protect the bulldogs (and also to collect $500,000.00), this alleged motivation does not negate her guilt of the charge because she has admitted receiving the bulldogs with knowledge that they were stolen property,” the judge wrote. “If anything, the [updated lawsuit] makes even clearer … that plaintiff has unclean hands that prevent her from profiting from her actions.”
McBride is one of five people charged over the Feb. 24, 2021, gunpoint dog-napping of Gaga’s bulldogs, Koji and Gustav. Prosecutors say the singer was not specifically targeted, and that the group was merely trying to steal French bulldogs, which can be worth thousands of dollars. James Howard Jackson, the man who shot Fischer during the robbery, took a plea deal in December and was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Days after the attack, it was McBride who returned the dogs to police, claiming she’d found the animals tied to a pole and asking about the reward. While police initially told the media that McBride appeared to be “uninvolved and unassociated” with the crime, she was later connected to the robbery and charged with one count of receiving stolen property and one count of being an accessory after the fact. In December, she pleaded no contest to the property charge and was sentenced to two years of probation.
But just two months later, McBride was back in court again — filing a civil lawsuit claiming she deserves the credit for returning the superstar’s bulldogs. The case argued that Gaga’s promise of a reward, which the media characterized as “no questions asked,” was a binding “unilateral” offer to pay for the safe return of the dogs, and that McBride had taken her up on the proposal by flipping on the men who actually committed the robbery.
But Gaga’s lawyers quickly argued that a convicted criminal like McBride cannot “profit from her participation in a crime.” And in July, Judge Fujie agreed.
“The allegations in the complaint are directly related to wrongful conduct that plaintiff pleaded guilty to in the criminal proceeding,” the judge wrote at the time. “Under the circumstances, plaintiff’s successful pursuit of her current claims would allow her to benefit from her admitted wrongdoing.”
In attempting to re-file an updated version of her lawsuit, McBride’s lawyers argued that she had “had no involvement with nor knowledge of the taking of Defendant’s dogs.” But in Monday’s ruling dismissing the case again, Judge Fujie pointed out all the things that McBride’s lawyers didn’t say.
“While Plaintiff alleges that she was not involved in the prior planning or the commission of the theft of Moving Defendant’s bulldogs, she does not deny that at the time she claimed the reward she knew that they were stolen from Moving Defendant, nor does she deny that she received them with that knowledge,” the judge wrote.
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