A $3.8m (£3.26m) libel claim brought against Los Angeles indie rock musician Phoebe Bridgers by producer Chris Nelson late last year has been dismissed, reports MyNews LA.
Nelson had alleged that Bridgers had “intentionally used his high-profile public platform…to post false and defamatory statements.”
The lawsuit was dismissed on Wednesday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis A Kin. Bridgers’ attorneys had filed a motion to dismiss in February under California’s ‘anti-Slapp’ law, which tries to prevent people from using the threat of legal action to suppress free speech .
“We feel vindicated that the Court has recognized this lawsuit as frivolous and without merit,” a spokesperson for Bridgers wrote in a statement provided to The Guardian. “It was not based on law or fact, but was filed for the sole purpose of damaging our client’s reputation and career. This victory is important not only for our client but for all those she sought to protect using her platform.
Nelson filed her initial complaint after Bridgers posted on Instagram that she had “witnessed and can personally verify much of the abuse (grooming, theft, violence) perpetrated by Chris Nelson”, and directed her Instagram followers to the page of Emily Bannon, Nelson’s ex. -girlfriend, who had made a separate post accusing Nelson of “beating[ing] a young Latinx to death” and “cheating[ing a] neighbor on an estimated amount between 100,000 and 130,000 dollars. Nelson alleged that Bridgers had a “vendetta to destroy [his] reputation” due to his romantic relationship with Bannon.
In their motion to dismiss, Bridgers’ attorneys said Nelson’s lawsuit “seeks to chill Ms. Bridgers’ allegations of abusive conduct,” that her allegations are protected by the First Amendment, and that “[Nelson] is a limited-purpose public figure who must prove that Ms. Bridgers acted with actual malice, which he cannot do. Bridgers defended the allegations she made in her Instagram post in a sworn statement: “My statements have been made on the basis of my personal knowledge, including statements that I have personally heard made by Mr. Nelson, as well as my own observations. I continue to believe that the statements I made were true.
This is Nelson’s second lawsuit to be dismissed on First Amendment grounds this year. In December 2020, he sued another ex-girlfriend, actor Noël Wells, for alleged defamation, “false light” (a misleading representation), intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with potential economic relationships, and interference by negligence in potential economic dealings, after she sent a private email to the Big Thief group saying Nelson had acted in a “predatory” manner towards her.
On January 6, a Los Angeles County judge dismissed the suit, saying Wells’ email was free speech.