While several Hollywood men have publicly denied accusations of sexual harassment and assault, Brett Ratner is one of few who have sued over the claims — and he’s asking a Hawaii judge to keep his defamation suit alive.
In November, the director sued Melanie Kohler for allegedly publishing false rape claims about him on Facebook.
The lawsuit followed an explosive Los Angeles Times report in which six women, not including Kohler, claimed they were sexually assaulted or harassed by Ratner. In her Facebook post, Kohler said Ratner “preyed” on her while she was drunk more than a decade ago.
Kohler earlier this month asked the court to toss the complaint, arguing it was “threadbare” and failed to demonstrate that she acted with malice. Her attorneys also asked the judge to consider whether California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which brings an early end to suits arising from First Amendment protected activities, should apply — even though the suit was filed in Hawaii federal court.
In a Monday filing, Ratner’s attorney Andrew Brettler argues that the complaint was more than sufficient.
“This case is very simple,” he writes. “Defendant publicly accused Mr. Ratner of raping her — an allegation which he vehemently denies. As a result, Mr. Ratner filed this lawsuit against Defendant for defamation based on her false accusation of rape.”
Brettler also challenged Kohler’s “improper” attempt to invoke California law despite the facts that she is a resident of Hawaii and published the statements at issue from there. (Read the full filing below.)
“Hawaii has a strong interest in having its own anti-SLAPP statute apply to statements issued within Hawaii by Hawaii citizens,” writes Brettler. “As Defendant acknowledges, Hawaii’s anti-SLAPP statute does not cover the statements at issue here because they were not made to a governmental body or in connection with a governmental proceeding.”
If the court disagrees, Brettler argues Ratner could and would demonstrate a likelihood of prevailing on his claim to survive an anti-SLAPP motion under California’s law.
“Mr. Ratner will demonstrate, through admissible evidence, that Defendant’s published statements about him are false and defamatory and resulted in damage to his personal and professional reputations,” states the filing. “Among other things, Defendant has changed her story multiple times since she originally published her false rape allegations on Facebook.”
Kohler’s attorney Robbie Kaplan on Monday sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the filing: “There is nothing in Mr. Ratner’s papers filed today that changes our view that his case should be dismissed. As we said when Mr. Ratner filed his complaint, ‘see you in Court.’ We remain confident that the Court will agree and we look forward to oral argument in Hawaii next month.”
Jan. 22, 5:20 p.m. Updated with statement from Kohler’s attorney.