Phoebe Bridgers in court: Judge moves to dismiss defamation case

Phoebe Bridgers appeared yesterday (August 12) at a libel trial and it seems the judge in the case is leaning towards dismissing the case.

The lawsuit against Bridgers was filed last year by producer Chris Nelson. It stemmed from a social media post in October 2020, in which Bridgers directed her Instagram followers to a thread written by her friend Emily Bannon, which Nelson declared defamatory.

Nelson subsequently sued the singer for defamation and is currently seeking $3.8m (£2.8m) in damages. He claims that Bridgers “intentionally used his high-profile public platform on Instagram to post false and defamatory statements” about him “to tarnish his reputation.”

In an affidavit filed on February 14, Bridgers responded to the allegations, saying, “I believe the statements I made on my Instagram story are true. My statements were based on my personal knowledge, including hearsay statements I personally from Mr. Nelson.”

Later, Nelson claimed the right to cross-examine Bridgers, saying it was the only way to prove the musician had defamed him. Earlier this month, Bridgers’ attorneys called the petition “harassment.”

“Mr. Nelson’s amorphous discovery request, based on his attorney’s circular statement that it is necessary, is nothing more than thinly veiled harassment,” his attorney, Alan A. Greenberg, wrote in a March 16 court filing.

In February, Bridgers tried to have the lawsuit struck down, citing California’s anti-SLAPP law in a new court filing. The motion filed said Nelson is public enough to have to prove Bridgers acted “with actual malice.”

“Mrs. Bridgers submitted a statement affirming her subjective belief in the truth of her statement, and therefore Mr. Nelson is unable to meet his charge. Therefore, the court should grant this special motion to strike” , they declared.

In his court appearance this week, Judge Kin said of the case: “I’ve had time to think about this, and I’ve certainly formulated some ideas, where I stand, where I’m leaning.

“I will tell you clearly that I am inclined to think that I would grant the anti-SLAPP motion. I find Ms. Bridgers’ post to be a matter of public interest. I find her statements on Instagram to be a person in the eyes of the communities, as well as statements that may directly affect a large number of people outside of Mr. Nelson and Ms. Bridgers.”

The judge added that he believed it was probably “a matter of public interest that Ms Bridgers, in her Instagram post, intended to provide consumer protection information to musicians or others who might consider working with him the plaintiff”.

He added that Nelson’s attempt to present himself as a private citizen for anti-SLAPP purposes was “inconsistent” with his own claim, as he describes himself as a “well-established” producer. traffic.

Nelson has already lost a libel case against musician, actor and director Noël Wells, after he alleged that Wells made “false” statements about him in correspondence with the band Big Thief, and caused emotional distress on him.

Wells allegedly told a representative of an artist with whom Nelson had a working relationship that he had an “unbelievable predatory move on. [ella]'” and that he showed “extremely predatory behaviour… towards young women, including young musicians.”

Los Angeles County Judge Gregory W. Alarcon dismissed Nelson’s case against Wells at a court hearing in January. He ruled that Wells was protected by the right to free speech.

His attorneys also noted that a ruling in Nelson’s favor would defeat the purpose of the anti-SLAPP law: “If plaintiffs could justify a stay of discovery based on their lack of available evidence to counter an anti-SLAPP motion, that’s all. allow those with the weakest claims to pass on the cost and delay of discovery to the defendants most sought to be protected by the legislature by providing the courts with a procedure to dismiss fruitless litigation at an early stage it aims to chill the valid exercise of constitutional rights.”

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