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A US court has dismissed a defamation claim brought by Kailyn Lowry of Teen Mom 2 against co-star Briana DeJesus. The women have both appeared on the hit MTV reality show which follows “moms work[ing] to balance their careers, family life and everyday adventures as they grow from teenage mothers into full-fledged adults ready to face the world”. Lowry is one of the original cast-members of the show, with DeJesus later joining in 2017.

Lowry commenced the defamation proceedings in 2021, claiming DeJesus shared comments on social media which suggested “Lowry physically beat Christopher Lopez, the father of two of Lowry’s sons, and broke into and entered the home of Mr. Lopez’s mother”. Lowry claimed the comments were untrue, and argued that they were made “for the purpose of causing [her] harm” and “threatened” her livelihood.

In response, DeJesus’s attorney reportedly argued that the comments were not “false” as Lowry had been arrested for assaulting Lopez (the charges were later dropped, and Lowry was not prosecuted) and Lowry’s claim was “meritless and directed exclusively at protected speech on a matter of public concern brought for the purpose of harassing and trying to silence a critic”.

A judge has reportedly now dismissed Lowry’s claim, finding that the social media post was not defamatory because it contained “protected speech regarding opinion or was factually accurate”.

In a short statement following the outcome, DeJesus simply said “I won”.

Although some aspects of defamation law vary amongst the US states, it is widely accepted that ‘truth’ is a complete defence. However, unlike in England and Wales, public figures who sue for defamation must show actual malice – that is, that the defendant published the statement either knowing it was false or with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity.