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Lindell in January sued the outlet after it reported that he dated the 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star for several months and showered her with gifts, including fancy booze.
Daily Mail moved to dismiss the matter on April 12, but Lindell has since asked to amend his complaint. In a May 6 letter to U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty, the outlet’s lawyer Kelli Sager argues it would be futile to allow it.
Sager argues not only are the statements at issue not defamatory — but also he’s a public figure and can’t show the outlet acted with malice. (Even if the court finds he’s not a public figure, she says New York’s recently-bolstered anti-SLAPP statute would require a showing of malice.) Plus, she argues, the proposed amendments add only “vague, irrelevant details about the Lindell Recovery Network” that were available to him before filing the initial complaint.
In a reply filed Thursday in support of its motion to dismiss, Daily Mail argued that the law is clear and even a “devout Christian” wouldn’t be “subjected to hatred or contempt by ordinary readers, applying today’s societal mores, because of a report that he dated a popular actress and gave her gifts that included alcohol.”
Sager argues Lindell failed to cite a single case where a court has found innocuous statements about a consensual romantic relationship between two adults, or those involving gifts of alcohol, are defamatory.
“Plaintiff takes the new position that statements describing a consensual romantic relationship imply that he is a ‘hypocrite,’ based on the apparent theory that dating or gifting champagne is somehow inconsistent with ‘Christian’ or ‘conservative’ values,” writes Sager in the filing, which is embedded below.
She continues to argue that the article even explicitly states Lindell is a recovering addict. “Rather than accusing Plaintiff of ‘cavort[ing]’ with ‘a Hollywood actress’, or suggesting any immoral or disreputable behavior, the Article describes a long-term relationship, stating that Plaintiff ‘wooed the actress for close to a year,” writes Sager. “Nothing in the Article states or can reasonably be read to imply that he drank alcohol, engaged in sexual misconduct, or otherwise acted inconsistently with his professed evangelical Christian faith.”
Further, Daily Mail contends that — even if these statements were defamatory — there’s no way the statements caused further harm to Lindell’s reputation after he had already received “widespread, negative publicity that includes his advocacy of fake COVID-19 ‘cures,’ false theories about election fraud, and support of martial law.”
A hearing has not yet been scheduled.
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