Bill Cosby's Lawyers Ask Appeals Court to Toss Janice Dickinson Defamation Suit

Bill Cosby Hearing - July 7th 2016 - Getty - H - 2016
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

Bill Cosby's legal team is asking the California Court of Appeal to consider whether a person should be allowed to publicly proclaim innocence when faced with serious allegations in the press.

This is the latest development in the comedian's legal fight with Janice Dickinson, which began in 2015. The former model sued Cosby, and then-lawyer Marty Singer, who has since been dismissed from the case, for defamation. She claims the men "publicly branded her a liar" after she gave a 2014 TV interview in which she said Cosby drugged and raped her in the 1980s.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Debre Weintraub in March granted in part, and denied in part, an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the suit.

The judge dismissed claims related to a letter Singer sent to Good Morning America, finding those statements were protected by the litigation privilege. However, she denied the motion tied to a statement Singer made to the press.

Cosby's attorney Angela Agrusa argues that decision was in error and the entire case should have been thrown out.

"The Statement’s assertion that Ms. Dickinson’s rape allegations are fabrications constitutes Attorney Singer’s opinion, and because it also discloses the facts upon which that opinion is based, it cannot serve as the basis for a defamation suit," writes Agrusa.

She also notes that the 3rd Circuit recently affirmed a district court's decision to dismiss with prejudice a similar defamation claim filed by Renita Hill, another Cosby accuser, over statements made by Singer to the press. That opinion stated, “[E]ven if Singer’s Statement does imply Ms. Hill is a liar, it is still not actionable because it includes the facts supporting that implication.”

Further, Agrusa argues that — even if the statement was defamatory and issued with actual malice — Cosby didn't speak or write the statement and the fact that Singer was representing him at the time isn't enough to make him liable for it. "With no evidence that Mr. Cosby himself issued the Statement, and no law imputing a malicious state of mind on an individual simply for failing to retract the statement of another, the trial court should have granted Mr. Cosby’s special motion to strike the defamation claim," writes the attorney.

Agrusa also argues that the public persona Dickinson has created will make it tough for her to prove that her reputation was harmed by Cosby through Singer's statements.

"In her quest to remain in the public eye, Ms. Dickinson actively cultivates a reputation for outrageous behavior that includes substance abuse, mental lapses, and not being truthful," writes Agrusa in the brief.

Dickinson's attorney Lisa Bloom has not yet commented on the filing, which is posted in full below.