DR. PHIL RUINED MY LIFE!

Published on: November 25, 2003

"DR. PHIL ruined my life!" That's the angry charge of convicted murderer Laurie "Bambi" Bembenek, who's filed a lawsuit against the self-help guru.

Bembenek is seeking unspecified damages from the TV shrink - after her right leg was amputated when she fell out a window while trying to escape his staffers.

"The loss of Laurie's leg was as devastating to her as the day she was wrongly convicted of murder and sent to prison," Bembenek's longtime friend and private investigator Ira Robins told The ENQUIRER.

"She's said many times that she holds Dr. Phil and his producers personally responsible for ruining her life."

The strange saga of Bembenek - one of America's most notorious prison escapees - got even stranger last November when she flew to California to appear on the "Dr. Phil" show. The show had agreed to foot the $20,000 bill for DNA tests that Laurie insisted would clear her name in the 1981 murder of her then-husband's ex-wife.

But when Bembenek, 45, and her boyfriend arrived in Los Angeles, her tempestuous life took yet another horrific turn. Dr. Phil's handlers stashed Bembenek in an apartment hideaway that had no contact with the outside world because they wanted to keep her from finding out the DNA results before her TV appearance, according to her lawsuit.

After spending eight years in prison, Bembenek said being confined triggered a panic attack. She tried to lower herself out a window, but plunged 12 feet to the ground. Bembenek suffered a severed artery, plus broken bones in her leg and foot. Eventually, her right leg was amputated several inches below the knee.

Now in dire straits, Bembenek has filed suit against Dr. Phil and Paramount Pictures, alleging false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. She's seeking punitive damages and attorney's fees.

"Since the incident, Laurie has not been able to work or support herself," Robins told The ENQUIRER. "She depends on friends for financial support.

"Laurie was fitted for a prosthesis several months after the amputation. She couldn't afford a good one, so it was very painful for her to wear.

"Kindhearted friends chipped in the money to buy her a better quality prosthesis.

"Laurie was living with her dad in Vancouver, Wash., but he died of cancer several months ago, so she had to move in with friends.

"She hasn't had a job since before the accident a year ago. Laurie worked at the YMCA helping abused women, but was let go because of budget cuts.

"This accident has affected every single aspect of her life.

"Laurie is in constant pain and still needs a cane. Doctors say she will probably always walk with a limp.

"But as bad as things are, she's grateful to be alive after that fall. The artery in her leg was severed on impact - and she could have bled to death within minutes."