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As Bill Cosby begins his prison sentence for sexually assaulting one woman, he will continue to face a lawsuit for allegedly defaming another woman. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Cosby’s petition to review the Janice Dickinson dispute.
Dickinson, a former supermodel, alleges her reputation was hurt in 2014 when Cosby’s then-attorney Marty Singer told media outlets that her story of being drugged and raped by the comedian was “fabricated and is an outrageous defamatory lie.”
The case resulted in a decision last November by a California appeals court allowing the lawsuit to proceed over Cosby’s contention that the statements at issue were opinions rather than provable facts. Cosby petitioned the high court to create more breathing room for attorneys to defend clients in the press. Specifically, Cosby’s petition called on the justices to revisit the 1990 decision in Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co and the overall topic of non-actionable opinion.
On Monday, without explaining any further, the Supreme Court denied review and left the lower opinion untouched. The case is now proceeding at Los Angeles Superior Court, where Singer himself escaped the litigation because Dickinson, as a public figure, couldn’t establish actual malice.
As for the topic of public figures, the Supreme Court still hasn’t determined whether it will be hearing a separate Cosby case petitioned by another Cosby accuser, Kathrine McKee, who argues that those who simply say, “metoo,” shouldn’t have to show actual malice. That matter has been rescheduled for a conference on Thursday, with possible announcement of a review coming next week.
On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected hundreds of petitions, including one concerning a trademark decision over Fox’s Empire. Last November, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals essentially allowed Fox to keep the title of the show over the objection of Empire Distribution, a hip-hop label. The lower appeals court applied free speech protections for expressive works and applied a test that examines artistic relevance and whether use of a mark is explicitly misleading. The appellant wanted closer examination into the likelihood of confusion.
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