A California appeals court sees no evidence that Courtney Love’s fame is on par with Marlon Brando’s. As a result, the rock star will continue fighting a lawsuit from a fashion designer who claims being defamed by Love on social media and Howard Stern’s radio show.
Dawn Simorangkir, a.k.a. the “Boudoir Queen,” is the plaintiff who’s fought Love on and off (and on) for the last six years.
I first reported on this case about six years ago, and the beat goes on.
A designer named Dawn Simorangkir, aka the “Boudoir Queen”, managed to get on the bad side of Courtney Love, who took to Twitter to call Simorangkir a “thieving prostitute” and the like. Simorangkir sued for defamation, and that action ultimately settled for $430,000.
But Love was undeterred.
She again began talking trash about Simorangkir on various social media, and the designer again sued. This time Love sought to dispose of the action by way of an anti-SLAPP motion.
Will that work? Well, let’s go through the analysis. To prevail on an anti-SLAPP motion, the defendant must first establish that the matter falls under the anti-SLAPP statute, and that requires a showing that the protected speech in question involves a matter of public interest.
“No problem,” said Love’s attorneys, “we can rely on the Marlon Brando case, wherein his housekeeper claimed an invasion of privacy when a television show did a story on how she was named in Brando’s will.” (I didn’t actually hear Love’s attorneys say this, but the story flows better if we assume they did.) In the Marlon Brando case, the court found the housekeeper and the will were matters of public interest because Brando was such a huge celebrity. Following the reasoning of the Brando case, Love’s attorneys argued that this was not a simple matter between two individuals with no public interest, but rather fell under the anti-SLAPP statute because Love’s fame made it a matter of public interest.
But there was a problem. Judge Allan Goodman said, “I knew Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando was a friend of mine, and you, Ms. Love, are no Marlon Brando.” Actually he didn’t say that, but that was the essence of his holding. He simply found that Love’s fame is not enough to make her controversies a matter of public interest.
The takeaway here is that the first prong of the anti-SLAPP analysis is still alive and well. So many controversies are deemed to be matters of public interest that some attorneys fail to focus sufficiently on that prong. But if the issue is between two individuals or limited to a small group, take a hard look at that prong.