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At a court hearing on Monday, a judge indicated that he would throw out much of Ellen Pearson Kardashian‘s lawsuit over comments made her way in Season 8 of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
The development marks the latest twist in a dispute worthy of a reality TV show.
Last April, Kourtney, Kim and Khloé Kardashian sued their ex-mother-in-law Ellen over their father’s diary and photo album. The father, of course, is Robert Kardashian, the deceased attorney who became nationally known as a member of O.J. Simpson‘s criminal defense dream team. Ellen had allegedly licensed portions of the diaries and photos to gossip publications. The plaintiffs maintain, however, that Ellen wasn’t bequeathed these items, and so they are suing her for conversion and copyright infringement.
In reaction to the lawsuit, Ellen suggested in court that “the Kardashians worked with the Production Company to craft and fully script the filing of the lawsuit and service of the summons as a sensational and dramatic scene for Season 8, Episode 2 of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
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Thereafter, Ellen Kardashian brought a new lawsuit against the three Kardashian sisters, Robert Kardashian Jr., Kris Jenner, Bunim-Murray Productions and Ryan Seacrest Productions.
She is looking to hold these parties responsible for allegedly making statements on Keeping Up With the Kardashians characterizing her as a money-driven opportunist and falsely attributing words from Robert Kardashian to her. For example, Kim is claimed to have stated, “My dad’s, like, ex-wife that he was married to for two weeks, she recently came out saying that my mom beat me as a child.”
This lawsuit is now being heard at a Los Angeles Superior Court, and the defendants have filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike it.
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To prevail, the Kardashian clan and the production companies first have to demonstrate that the complained-about statements were in furtherance of their First Amendment rights in connection with an issue of public interest. The plaintiff’s attorneys attempted to dispute that merely being a Kardashian rose to being “public interest,” but the defendant’s lawyers have seemingly persuaded the judge to credit the enormous success and popularity of the Kardashians.
As a result, the burden shifts to Ellen Kardashian to demonstrate a probability of ultimately prevailing on her claims to survive in court any further.
At a hearing, Judge Mitchell Beckloff indicated that the plaintiff probably couldn’t make the case for three causes of action — intentional infliction of emotional distress, disclosure of private facts and conspiracy of defame. These claims are primed to be dismissed.
That would leave Ellen Kardashian fighting over a more standard defamation charge. Judge Beckloff hasn’t made up his mind about this one.
The defendants say that Ellen is a limited purpose public figure, and as such, needs to produce evidence of actual malice to win a defamation claim. They say she doesn’t have such evidence.
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Ellen’s attorneys are pointing among other things to Khloé’s deposition where she stated, “All of us generally did not care that much for Ellen,” and Kim’s deposition where she stated, “I dislike her.”
That’s not enough, say the defendants. According to one of their legal briefs, “Plaintiff has failed to identify any evidence demonstrating that Khloé and Kim’s alleged dislike of Plaintiff impacted their actual belief concerning the truthfulness of the purportedly defamatory statements.”
The Kardashian defendants also assert that the statements in the reality TV show were substantially true. Ellen’s lawyers respond that “each statement at issue not only contains specific provably false details, but the ‘gist’ or ‘sting’ of each statement, namely that Plaintiff swooped in to marry Robert with an improper agenda, mere weeks prior to Robert’s death, is patently false and runs contrary to their four year relationship.”
A full decision on whether this case will be proceeding or ending should be coming soon.
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