'Biggest Loser' Contestant Asks Court to Drop Doctor's Libel Lawsuit

"The concern over protracted litigation and chilled speech are of particular concern in a case such as this one, involving an individual defendant offering a first-hand account of her own experiences and opinions," writes former contestant Joelle Gwynn's attorney.
Loser: Trae Patton/NBC. Huizenga: JC Olivera/WireImage

A former contestant on The Biggest Loser says the doctor who supervises competitors during their weight loss challenge doesn't have grounds to sue her for sharing her opinions about her experiences on the show with the New York Post.

Dr. Robert Huizenga, known as Dr. H, last June sued Joelle Gwynn and the Post claiming statements about him in a series of online articles — including claims that he encouraged unsafe and illegal weight-loss methods on the show — are false and defamatory.

Now, Gwynn's attorney Mona Houck argues that Huizenga's lawsuit is based on non-actionable expressions of opinion and statements of fact that don't refer to him — and argues that Huizenga is a public figure and therefore must prove her client said the statements at issue with knowledge that they were false or with a reckless disregard for the truth.

"The concern over protracted litigation and chilled speech are of particular concern in a case such as this one, involving an individual defendant offering a first-hand account of her own experiences and opinions," writes Houck. "Plaintiff has not come forward with a single fact supporting any showing of actual malice, and Ms. Gwynn should not be subjected to the demands of discovery and protracted litigation as he fishes for support he can never find."

If the suit is not dismissed, Houck wants one of the five alleged defamatory statements stricken from the complaint. 

"The statement at issue is this: 'People chastise Bill Cosby for allegedly offering meds to women, but it’s acceptable to do to fat people to make them lose weight. I feel like we got raped, too,' " she writes. "This statement is no more than Ms. Gwynn’s subjective opinion about her own experience and the general treatment of people who are overweight, using colorful language to emphasize her point. … That expression of feeling is not one capable of being proved false."

In addition to being Gwynn's opinion, Houck says the statement doesn't refer to Huizenga in any way. She also argues that the doctor's claim for intentional interference with prospective economic relations should be dismissed because it is based on the same "assertions of reputational harm" as the defamation claim.

The Post also filed an answer to Huizenga's complaint on Friday and asserted numerous affirmative defenses including that the suit is barred by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, that the statements in the complaint are true or substantially true, and that it did not publish any of the statements with actual malice. (Read it in full here.) The outlet is also asking the court to dismiss the complaint in its entirety.

A former contestant on The Biggest Loser says the sports doctor who supervises competitors during their weightloss challenge doesn't have tktktktkt.

Dr. Robert Huizenga, known as Dr. H, sued Joelle Gwynn and the New York Post claiming statements about him in a series of posts published by the outlet, including that he encouraged unsafe and illegal weight-loss methods on the show, are false and defamatory.

Now, Gwynn's attorney Mona Houck is arguing that Huizenga's lawsuit is based on non-actionable expressions of opinion and statements of fact that don't refer to him and allowing this litigation to continue would chill free speech.

Houck also argues that Huizenga is a public figure and therefore must prove the story was published with  knowledge that the claims were false or with a reckless disregard for the truth, in order to meet the actual malice standard.

The Post also filed an answer to Huizenga's complaint on Friday and asserted numerous affirmative defenses including that the suit is barred by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, that the statements in the complaint are true or substantially true and that it did not publish any of the statements with actual malice. (Read it in full here.) The outlet is also asking the court to dismiss the complaint in its entirety.

 

Gwynn Memo in Support of MTD by ashley6cullins on Scribd

A former contestant on The Biggest Loser says the sports doctor who supervises competitors during their weightloss challenge doesn't have tktktktkt.

Dr. Robert Huizenga, known as Dr. H, sued Joelle Gwynn and the New York Post claiming statements about him in a series of posts published by the outlet, including that he encouraged unsafe and illegal weight-loss methods on the show, are false and defamatory.

Now, Gwynn's attorney Mona Houck is arguing that Huizenga's lawsuit is based on non-actionable expressions of opinion and statements of fact that don't refer to him and allowing this litigation to continue would chill free speech.

Houck also argues that Huizenga is a public figure and therefore must prove the story was published with  knowledge that the claims were false or with a reckless disregard for the truth, in order to meet the actual malice standard.

The Post also filed an answer to Huizenga's complaint on Friday and asserted numerous affirmative defenses including that the suit is barred by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, that the statements in the complaint are true or substantially true and that it did not publish any of the statements with actual malice. (Read it in full here.) The outlet is also asking the court to dismiss the complaint in its entirety.

 

 

A former contestant on The Biggest Loser says the sports doctor who supervises competitors during their weightloss challenge doesn't have tktktktkt.

Dr. Robert Huizenga, known as Dr. H, sued Joelle Gwynn and the New York Post claiming statements about him in a series of posts published by the outlet, including that he encouraged unsafe and illegal weight-loss methods on the show, are false and defamatory.

Now, Gwynn's attorney Mona Houck is arguing that Huizenga's lawsuit is based on non-actionable expressions of opinion and statements of fact that don't refer to him and allowing this litigation to continue would chill free speech.

Houck also argues that Huizenga is a public figure and therefore must prove the story was published with  knowledge that the claims were false or with a reckless disregard for the truth, in order to meet the actual malice standard.

The Post also filed an answer to Huizenga's complaint on Friday and asserted numerous affirmative defenses including that the suit is barred by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, that the statements in the complaint are true or substantially true and that it did not publish any of the statements with actual malice. (Read it in full here.) The outlet is also asking the court to dismiss the complaint in its entirety.

 

Gwynn Memo in Support of MTD by ashley6cullins on Scribd

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