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Incivility on social media seems to be a regular occurrence, and celebrities usually shrug it off (or don’t even read the comments from people who are tweeting at them), but James Woods is making a $10 million case about it.
On Wednesday, the actor went to the Los Angeles Superior Court and sued the anonymous individual who is tweeting as “Abe List” for defamation over a derogatory tweet that suggested Woods was a “cocaine addict” — a message that Woods complains was sent to “thousands of AL’s followers and hundreds of thousands of Mr. Woods’ followers.”
Woods is taking a stand. “AL’s reckless and malicious behavior, through the worldwide reach of the internet, has now jeopardized Woods’ good name and reputation on an international scale,” states the complaint. “AL, and anyone else using social media to propagate lies and do harm, should take note. They are not impervious to the law.”
The defendant’s social media profile suggests that he or she is based in Los Angeles, a partner in private equity, possibly Harvard-educated and, luckily, married to an attorney. The “cocaine addict” tweet was actually a reply on July 15 to something the Once Upon a Time in America actor himself tweeted about media priorities.
— Abe List (@abelisted) July 15, 2015
The complaint says Abe List “stepped over the line” here and that Wood “is not now, nor has ever been, a cocaine addict, and AL had no reason to believe otherwise. Rather AL’s outrageous claim is the culmination of a malicious on-line campaign by AL to discredit and damage Woods’ reputation, a campaign which began as early as December 2014.”
During the month in question, the conservative actor trolled many by tweeting what seemed to be a birther-related comment toward President Barack Obama. “Abe List” took the bait and made a response.
@RealJamesWoods you are a ridiculous scum clown-boy James, a joke.
— Abe List (@abelisted) December 26, 2014
So why take a stand against this guy?
“The owner of the AL Twitter Account has thousands of followers and, since at least December 2014, has undertaken to engage his followers with a campaign of childish name-calling targeting against Woods,” continues the lawsuit (read in full here), with italics included. “In the past, AL has referred to Woods with such derogatory terms as ‘prick,’ ‘joke,’ ‘ridiculous,’ ‘scum’ and ‘clown-boy.’ “
Those comments probably fall under nonactionable opinion, but “cocaine addict” is a statement that could be true or false and possibly qualify as defamation. That said, given that Woods is a public figure, he’d have to show actual malice to prevail. First, he’ll need to identify the defendant, which probably means that Twitter should be expecting a subpoena soon.
No word on whether Woods attempted to “block” the defendant from following him. Nor does Woods explain whether he ever attempted to mitigate harm by filling out a form Twitter provides to curb abuse on its forum. Instead, he’s hired Michael Weinsten at Lavely & Singer and is going the route of a $10 million defamation lawsuit and resulting headlines.
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