Plaintiff Lost Anti-SLAPP Motion But Won Defamation Claim

A celebrity entertainment television personality won a defamation lawsuit against her ex-stylist after losing an anti-SLAPP motion.
A celebrity entertainment television personality won a defamation lawsuit against her ex-stylist after losing an anti-SLAPP motion.

You guys, Extra host Maria Menounos won’t have to pay her ex-stylist defamation damages. I know, phew, right!?

Jokes aside, we’re mentioning the case because it proves a win is possible after a failed anti-SLAPP motion.

Menounos Confronts Her Ex-Stylist At An MTV Party About Missing Dolce and Gabbana

Menounos’ defamation woes began in June 2011 at an MTV party in Hollywood. While schmoozing, Maria spotted her ex-stylist, Lindsay Albanese. Apparently, Menounos and Albanese had contentious parting of the ways awhile back, because at the party, in high dudgeon, Menounos approached Albanese and declared loudly, “Dolce & Gabbana won’t lend to me anymore because they said you never returned anything!”

[DUN, DUN, DUN!]

Assistant: “You Called Me A Thief! I’m Suing You!”

Outraged over the thief finger pointing, the stylist filed a defamation lawsuit.

Menounos tried to shut down the claim quickly by filing an anti-SLAPP motion, but the judge said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Nah ah; Albanese has a right to plead her case because the average person wouldn’t have reason to know or care about Lindsay’s life.” (Lohan she is not.)

Why Does The Stylists’ Celebrity Status Matter For A Defamation Lawsuit?

U.S. defamation law differentiates between public and private citizens. In most cases, if a public personality is the plaintiff, and the issue at hand is a matter of public interest, the defendant will win the defamation suit. (Not always, though.) To learn more about the higher preponderance of evidence standard for public figure plaintiffs in a defamation claim, go here and here.

Uh Oh. Somebody’s Past Caught Up With Her In The Courtroom

So off to trial court the two parties went. During discovery, Menounos’ lawyers used the age-old defense for defamation, truth. Confident in their findings, Menounos’ team had unearthed dirt about Albanese involving a grand theft conviction circa 2000 and a firing from NBC thanks to stealing.

Needless to say, the plaintiff opted to settle. Judging from reports, it doesn’t appear that Albanese walked away with anything.

The lesson: truth is always a defense for defamation. Even if a statement causes you severe embarrassment, it may not be defamatory. Every defamation case is different. It’s best to consult a defamation attorney before deciding whether or not to file a lawsuit. He or she can give you a good idea about your chances of winning.

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