Although many celebrities make headlines for their wealth and success, nothing gets the media’s attention more than a celebrity trying to cover their tracks. Gossip columns often lead to celebrities becoming the subject of false rumors that can damage their reputation. So, contacting a libel and slander lawyer about defamation gives celebrities the opportunity to sue those that have hurt their status.
In order to prove that libel has happened, a lot of factors have to be considered. In America, in the case of an ordinary citizen, the individual defamed must prove that the statement was false, caused harm to them, and was made without research into the truthfulness of the statement. But, if the person defamed is a celebrity, things are different; the celebrity still has to prove the first three criteria, but then the celebrity has to prove that the statement was made with the intent to do harm or with "reckless disregard" for the truth.
Today, celebrity libel and slander cases are common, but there are some really successful cases where stars fought hard for their reputation. I recently sat down with New York Slander and Libel Attorney Nicholas Wooldridge, who shared some key examples of celebrities seeking compensation for being libeled or slandered, or both. Click through the slideshow to see more.
Cameron Diaz on the cover of her new book, The Body Book
Cameron Diaz - The British Sun newspaper hinted that Diaz had an affair with Shane Nickerson, a friend. When the article was published, she and Nickerson were in relationships and the hardly recognizable imaged posted with the article caused damage to both relationships, so Diaz sued for defamation. But no one is sure of the amount of money Diaz was awarded.
Robin Williams - Williams sued his celebrity look-alike who, with the help of his agent, was pretending to be the actual Robin Williams. Under false pretenses, the look-alike was cheating charities under Robin Williams’ name and causing serious damage to his reputation.
Kiera Knightley - The Daily Mail published accusations that Knightley had an eating disorder and had been responsible for the death of a young lady with anorexia. The actress went to court and was awarded several thousand dollars which she handed over to a charity.
Sharon Stone promoting a STOP CANCER Run/Walk
Sharon Stone - Plastic surgeon Renato Calabria let two U.S. magazines know that Stone had received a facelift. Stone claimed the accusations were false and had defamed her resulting in difficulty in finding work. She sued the surgeon for damages and won.
David Beckham - A magazine printed an article claiming that Beckham had hired a prostitute, so he sued. Since Beckham could not prove the magazine acted maliciously, he lost the court ruling and his $25 million lawsuit was tossed out.
Jessie Ventura – Ventura defied all the doubters when he claimed he had been defamed in a best-selling book. In 2012, Ventura sued Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL member, claiming Kyle's book, "American Sniper," included passages about Ventura that were false. While Ventura was not named in the book, he was alluded to in one chapter called "Punching Out Scruff Face." In interviews, after the book's release, Kyle said he was talking about Ventura in the chapter. Ventura told the court that if Kyle apologized for making up the story, then Ventura would not have sued. Ventura was awarded $1.8 million.
These days, according to Woodridge, the U.S. government puts a high priority on allowing the public to speak their mind about elected officials and public figures like celebrities. People in the public eye get less protection from defamatory statements and face a higher bar when hoping to win a defamation lawsuit. When a public official is criticized in a false way for something that relates to their behavior in office, they must prove the standard requirements for defamation with the added task of showing the statement was made with “malice.”
He explained, “For people that are in the public eye, but not elected, or public, officials, the defamation laws are different than for the rest of us. America has always made it harder for public officials to win defamation suits. If an official could easily win a defamation suit, then freedom of speech would be stifled. People would become fearful of speaking their minds about publicly, elected officials, thus, the burden of proof is higher.”
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