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A California appeals court won’t upset the victory that Courtney Love experienced in January 2014, when she became the first individual in the U.S. to go to trial over an allegedly defamatory tweet.
An opinion handed down Monday affirms a jury’s conclusion that Love didn’t act with actual malice when tweeting about her former attorney, “I was f—ing devestated [sic] when Rhonda J. Holmes esq. of san diego was bought off.”
Love retained Holmes to pursue to a case against those who she believed had defrauded the estate of her late husband Kurt Cobain, but a lawsuit was never filed, and upon disputed circumstances, the rocker and her attorney split.
After Love’s tweet was published, Holmes and her law firm filed a defamation lawsuit, and because this case dealt with public figures, a jury needed to be convinced that Love knew her post was false or had reckless disregard for the truth. A jury concluded that the post was indeed false, but also that Holmes couldn’t prove by clear and convincing evidence that Love had doubts about the truth of her statement.
In Monday’s opinion, the California appeals court looks at the difference between “bought off” and a “bribe,” blesses the judge’s instructions to the jury and examines Love’s frame of mind.
“We must view the evidence in the light most favorable to Cobain and give her the benefit of every reasonable inference,” writes Justice Thomas Willhite. “Doing so, it would be reasonable for the jury to conclude that by saying that Holmes was bought off, Cobain meant that Holmes had been induced in some manner to stop representing her — whether by consideration or by threat. Moreover, given Cobain’s repeated testimony that she believed Holmes had been “compromised” or “gotten to,” substantial evidence supports the jury’s finding that Holmes did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that Cobain knew the statement was false or had serious doubts about the truth of the statement when she made it.”
Love was represented by attorneys at Dongell Lawrence Finney.
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