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Country singer Blake Shelton and In Touch Weekly have reached a settlement in the defamation fight over a Sept. 28, 2015, cover story headlined “The Real Story: REHAB for Blake.”
Details of the settlement have not been released, but Shelton’s attorney Larry Stein confirmed Thursday that the singer and magazine have resolved the situation amicably.
Shelton cleared a tough legal hurdle last April, when the court found the magazine’s claims weren’t protected speech. Attorneys for In Touch had argued that Shelton’s suit was barred by California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which aims to bring an early end to lawsuits that arise from constitutionally protected activity like free speech.
California federal judge Christina A. Snyder found the headline alone supported a claim for libel per se. “A reasonable person viewing the In Touch headlines and sub-headlines –– which were located 30 pages away from the Article –– might well have concluded that Shelton had, in fact, entered ‘REHAB’ after ‘his friends begged him to stop joking about drinking & get help,'” Snyder wrote.
As a public figure, Shelton faced an uphill battle because he would have to prove the magazine published the story with “actual malice” in order to succeed on his defamation claim — and In Touch argued his drunken tweets made him libel-proof in this instance.
But beating the anti-SLAPP motion was a strong sign that the court believed Shelton could prove In Touch either knew the claims were false or acted with reckless disregard of the truth. In fact, Snyder, in denying the motion to strike the complaint, found it was undisputed that the magazine ran the headline without believing the singer was actually in rehab.
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