Gary Susman
October 22, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The separation of Liza Minnelli and fourth husband David Gest after 16 months of marriage may not exactly have been a surprise, but still, the estranged couple never made the reasons for their split public. Three months later, however, Gest is telling his side of the story in a $10 million lawsuit. According to court papers, filed Tuesday in New York Superior Court and obtained by People, Gest claims his 57-year-old ex beat him a number of times in alcohol-fueled rages, causing permanent damage.

Throughout the 14-page document, Gest, 50, details several beatings he claims Minnelli inflicted upon him during their two-year relationship. In one incident, he alleges, she not only attacked him but also nearly strangled production manager Steven Benanav. Alcohol would give her ”remarkable force and strength,” Gest says, and he quotes Benanev as saying, ”She’s stronger than any woman I’ve ever seen.”

As a result of ”sustained severe injuries about the head,” Gest says, he suffers from ”virtually constant, unrelenting pain,” must take 11 prescription medications, and has been prohibited by doctors from traveling for business purposes. Minnelli’s lawyer, Allen Arrow, has not responded to various media outlets’ requests for comment on the suit.

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