Friday, August 12, 2022

Phoebe Bridgers Appears In Court, Judge Leaning Toward Blocking Defamation Lawsuit Against Her

Phoebe Bridgers appeared in court today in Los Angeles, where she asked a judge to block the defamation lawsuit filed against her by producer Chris Nelson, who alleged Bridgers defamed him in an Instagram post. Judge Curtis Kin said he was leaning toward granting the motion to block the lawsuit, according to Courthouse News.

“It seems like a he said/she said issue,” said Kin. “It’s hard to see, looking at the record, how the plaintiff could show that Ms. Bridgers, when making the post, knew her statements to be false or had serious doubts as to whether they were true.” The judge ultimately did not make a decision one way or the other, nor did he rule on a separate motion to make Bridgers’ deposition public.

In February, Bridgers responded to Nelson’s defamation lawsuit, saying she stood by her October 2020 Instagram post statements accusing Nelson of “grooming, stealing, [and] violence.” Bridgers’ legal team also filed an anti-SLAPP motion, claiming the suit sought to suppress her First Amendment right to free speech.

“I believe that the statements I made in my Instagram story are true. My statements were made based on my personal knowledge, including statements I personally heard Mr. Nelson make, as well as my own observations,” Bridgers wrote in a sworn declaration at the time. “I continue to believe the statements that I made were true.”

In her original Instagram post, Bridgers came out in support of Nelson’s ex Emily Bannon, writing: “I witnessed and can personally verify much of the abuse (grooming, stealing, violence) perpetuated by Chris Nelson, owner of a studio called Sound Space. For anyone who knows [Nelson], is considering working with him, or wants to know more, there is an articulate and mind-blowing account on @emilybannon’s page as a highlight. TRIGGER WARNING for basically everything triggering.”

Nelson originally filed a September 2021 defamation suit against Bridgers, seeking $3.8 million, claiming Bridgers defamed him. In January 2022, a Los Angeles County judge dismissed another defamation suit of Nelson’s against Noël Wells, arguing that Wells had a free speech right to warn Big Thief against working with the producer in a private email, describing his behavior as “incredibly predatory.”

On Thursday, Judge Kin also said he was inclined to grant Bridgers’ Anti-SLAPP motion, suggesting that Bridgers’ Instagram posts were a matter of public interest, and therefore protected speech. “It seems it is a matter of public interest,” he said. “Phoebe Bridgers is attempting to provide protective consumer information… She’s wanting to provide full information to those who are considering working with Mr. Nelson.”

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