Celebrity Defamation: Dance Mom v. Dance Maven

Dance Moms birthed a defamation lawsuit!
Dance Moms birthed a defamation lawsuit!

Gather round celebrity defamation fans; another reality show slander suit is afoot! I’m always skeptical of these cases, because one can’t help but wonder, “Is it for real or ratings?” But alas, our law demands assumptions of innocence. So, let’s take a look at the reality show defamation case of Dance Mom v. Dance Coach. [Insert Law and Order beats].

A ‘Dance Mom’ Stunt Results In A Celebrity Defamation Suit

The fracas began when Abby Lee and Kelly got “up in each other’s’ grillz” (tm Lucy Watson) at a dance competition in the Bronx. The show was being taped for their reality show, “Dance Moms.” Apparently, shouts were hurled and slaps exchanged. In the end, someone [*cough* realityshowproducers *cough*] called the police and Hyland ended up turning herself in – though she was never handcuffed.

As is the case with many a real-ebrity, after the dramatic slap-down aired (or maybe just before it aired?), Abby Lee took chatfests, like “The View,” to share her tale of primetime combat. So now Hyland is suing Abby Lee for defamation.

Dance Mom’s Lawsuit Says WHAA!?

According to her lawsuit, Hyland wants redress for assault, breach of contract and defamation. Assault because Abby Lee decked her at the dance competition; breach of contract because the spat could jeopardize her show and endorsement contracts; and defamation because according to Hyland, Miller made several false statements of fact on her promotional media tour, including:

  1. Calling Kelly “an alcoholic, being an unfit mother and endangering children.” and
  2. Accusing Hyland of pulling out clumps of Miller’s hair and bruising her face.”

Kelly Hyland’s attorneys also argued for defamation per se because Miller’s alleged false statements of fact were criminal in nature and allegedly injured Hyland in connection with her profession and/or trade business.

Hyland is asking for $5,000,000 in punitive damages, at first glance seems like a ludicrous ask amount from Abby Lee since the dance instructor just recently cleared up a bankruptcy. The sum does, however, make sense when you realize that Hyland also named Collins Avenue Entertainment – the producers of Dance Moms — as a defendant. How is Hyland tying Collins to the claim? According to her lawsuit, Miller was “acting as an agent of Collins” at the time of the confrontation. Moreover, Hyland argues:

“The producers of the show [Collins Avenue Entertainment], in an effort to attract ratings and viewership, encourage and facilitate conflicts between Miller on the one hand and the young girl dancers and their mothers on the other.”

Hyland insists her physical confrontation with Miller was a matter of self-defense. According to Kelly’s libel lawyer, “[Miller] repeatedly lunged toward Kelly gnashing her teeth and loudly attempting to bite Kelly.”

Also, in an attempt to discredit Collins, Hyland hypothesized in her filing that “the producers of the show desired for her to have a warrant issued for her arrest as that would make for intensely dramatic television.”

Well there you have it, folks: another celebrity defamation case for your gossip pleasure. We’ll keep an eye on his one to see if it ever makes it trial. My guess? It’s doubtful. I smell a settlement. Besides, if it is for ratings, the parties can’t take it too far or risk being prosecuted for misappropriation of the justice system.

Speak With A Defamation Attorney

Do you need to speak with a defamation attorney? Contact Kelly/Warner Law today. We have a dedicated slander and libel practice that has helped people from all 50 states, Canada, the UK and Australia. Our lawyers are top-rated, and the firm enjoys a superb BBB rating. Get in touch today to begin the conversation.

Yes, I Want to Speak with Someone about an Internet Law Issue »