28 Jan 28 January 2022
In this issue of zoom-in brief, Cardi B’s libel trial concludes with an award of $4 million in her favour, Netflix fails to strike out The Queen’s Gambit defamation lawsuit, Jimi Hendrix’s estate brings action over royalties and Britney Spears threatens to sue her sister over claims in her memoir.
Cardi B has been awarded over $4 million after winning her libel claim against Tasha K, the vlogger who posted videos online claiming that the New York rapper had worked as a prostitute, used cocaine, and contracted sexually transmitted infections.
Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, had filed her action against Tasha K in March 2019 in Georgia, where Tasha K lives, over videos posted on the celebrity gossip blogger’s unWinewithTashaK YouTube channel.
During the trial, lawyers for Cardi B said that Tasha K had waged ‘a campaign to damage and destroy [Cardi B’s] reputation among her fans and the consuming public’, and that the Grammy Award-winning musician had suffered ‘embarrassment, humiliation, mental anguish, and emotional distress’. Cardi B testified that the allegations made her feel ‘suicidal’ and that Tasha K was ‘obsessed with slandering’ her.
According to a verdict filed on Monday 24 January, a jury found Tasha K, whose real name is Latasha Kebe, liable on two counts of slander, one count of libel and one count of invasion of privacy. They awarded Cardi B $1.25 million and $2.8 million in two separate verdicts on 24 and 25 January. The award includes approximately $1.3 million to cover the hitmaker’s legal fees and $250,000 to cover medical expenses.
In a statement, Tasha K’s lawyers said that they disagreed with the verdict and would be filing an appeal.
Posting on Twitter, Tasha K said that ‘My Husband, Attorney’s, & I fought really hard,’ and thanked them ‘for their long hours and sleepless nights’. She added, ‘it’s only up from here’.
Following her victory this week, Cardi B posted a photograph on Instagram which appeared to show her late grandmother. It included the caption: ‘My queen thank you for hearing my prayers… Only you know those nights that I cried to you feeling hopeless and tired even when it seems like I have the world on my hands.’
Tasha K previously brought a $3 million countersuit against Cardi B, alleging that she had made threats against her: that claim was dismissed last July, after the judge cited a lack of evidence.
Netflix has failed in its attempt to dismiss a lawsuit relating to its award-winning series The Queen’s Gambit.
Female chess grandmaster, Nona Gaprindashvili, sued Netflix last year for false light invasion of privacy and defamation in relation to a statement made about her in the series, which follows the career of fictional chess player, Beth Harmon. U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Philips this week denied Netflix’s motion to strike out the claim.
The lawsuit centres around an announcement made during a fictional chess tournament depicted in the series which said: ‘…There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, but she’s the female world champion and has never faced men. ’Gaprindashvili objected to this line on the basis that it is ‘manifestly false’, sexist and belittling.
The streaming giant sought to dismiss the claim on the basis that the show is a fictional work and that the legal action attacks its ‘constitutionally protected free speech rights’.
In her ruling, the Judge held that, ‘At the very least, the line is dismissive of the accomplishments central to Plaintiff’s reputation’. The court held that whilst the series is based on fiction, the court could not ignore the fact that real people and events are referenced, and that the fact that the series was a fictional work ‘… does not insulate Netflix from liability for defamation if all the elements of defamation are otherwise present’.
In addition, the Judge found that the Plaintiff had submitted evidence to ‘support the allegation that a “reasonable” viewer would believe the line to be defamatory’ alongside evidence supporting the allegation of actual malice. The court therefore denied Netflix’s motion to dismiss and strike out the action, which will now proceed. zoom-in will report on developments.
The estate of Jimi Hendrix has filed a lawsuit seeking a declaration that the heirs of the legendary guitarist’s former bandmates have no right to bring copyright claims against them over alleged unpaid royalties dating back decades.
According to Rolling Stone, the filing was triggered by Sony Music Entertainment, the exclusive licensee of Hendrix’s music, receiving a letter in December from a lawyer representing the estates of former Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist David Noel Redding and drummer John Graham “Mitch” Mitchell, claiming that the label owed them ‘millions of pounds’ in unpaid royalties and threatening to bring legal proceedings.
In response, Hendrix’s estate and Sony filed a lawsuit on 18 January in Manhattan requesting ‘the issuance of a declaratory judgment of ownership and non-infringement’ – effectively a pre-emptive declaration that they owe nothing to Redding’s and Mitchell’s heirs.
The Hendrix estate and Sony say that Redding and Mitchell signed agreements in the 1970s releasing the Hendrix estate from any legal action in exchange for monetary compensation. The Redding and Mitchell estates claim that those agreements are no longer valid. The Hendrix estate says they remain enforceable and the Manhattan filing seeks a declaration to that effect.
Hendrix formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966. The band broke up in 1969 after Redding quit, although Mitchell continued to play with Hendrix on and off until Hendrix’s death the following year, at the age of 27. Redding died in 2003, and Mitchell died in 2008. Their estates’ lawyers say that ‘both died in relative poverty having never received their true entitlement from their works, performances and founding membership of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’.
According to Billboard, the Hendrix estate and Sony say that there has been no claim ‘for almost half a century… concerning the copyright ownership, exploitation of these recordings by plaintiffs, or payments of royalties’.
Britney Spears has threatened to sue her sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, if she continues to make ‘derogatory’ references to the Grammy-winner while promoting her new memoir.
Since the book, ‘Things I Should Have Said’ was released last week, Jamie Lynn has embarked on a press tour to publicise it and has described her sister’s behaviour as having been ‘erratic’, ‘paranoid’ and ‘spiralling’ in recent years.
Britney has taken issue on social media with Jamie Lynn’s recollections, including comments made by her during a recent interview on the ‘Good Morning America’ TV programme. Britney’s lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, has now sent Jamie Lynn a letter demanding that she ‘cease and desist from referencing Britney derogatorily during [her] promotional campaign’.
The letter warns that if Jamie Lynn fails to stop referencing Britney in a derogatory manner or defames her, ‘Britney will be forced to consider and take all appropriate legal action’.
Rosengart says that although Britney has not read Jamie Lynn’s book, it contains ‘misleading or outrageous’ claims about the pop icon, and has ‘exploited her for monetary gain’.
The letter also warns that ‘publicly airing false or fantastical grievances is wrong, especially when designed to sell books. It is also potentially unlawful and defamatory’.
Jamie Lynn has yet to comment on the cease-and-desist letter. During the ‘Good Morning America’ interview, Jamie Lynn said that she had ‘always been my sister’s biggest supporter’, and had taken steps to help Britney end the controversial conservatorship that was terminated late last year.
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