Extra host Maria Menounos won’t have to pay her ex-stylist defamation damages. We’re blogging about 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, Alicia(not real name). Apparently, Menounos and Alicia parted ways awhile back; but at the party, Menounos approached Alicia and loudly declared, “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 finger-pointing, the stylist filed a defamation lawsuit.
Menounos tried to shut down the claim by filing an anti-SLAPP motion, but the judge said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Nah ah. Alicia has a right to plead her case because the average person wouldn’t have reason to know or care about [Alicia’s] life.”
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.) To learn more about the higher preponderance of evidence standard for public figure plaintiffs in defamation claims, 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 its findings, Menounos’ team had unearthed dirt about Alicia involving a grand theft conviction circa 2000 and a past job termination, allegedly linked to theft.
Eventually, the plaintiff settled. Judging from reports, it doesn’t appear that Alicia walked away with anything.
The lesson: truth is a strong defense against 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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