8:16am PT by Eriq Gardner
Ex-Fugees Rapper Files $30 Million Defamation Lawsuit Against New York Post (Exclusive)
Less than a week after the New York Post published an article that was headlined, "Ex-Fugee rapper bailed on his own 9/11 benefit concert," Pras Michel has filed a $30 million defamation lawsuit that contends much of the story was untrue and damaging to him.
The article in question appeared on the Post website on Oct. 5 and reported that Pras didn't show up as the headliner for a 9/11 charity event in Hell's Kitchen to benefit his own foundation. The article also stated that Pras' Hope for Them foundation bounced a check to the venue, had falsely claimed MTV was sponsoring the event and failed to register the charity with state officials.
In Pras' complaint, filed on Wednesday in Broward County Court in Florida, Pras says he "has never owned nor been an owner, director or officer of the Foundation," that he never guaranteed a performance at the event and that the event had nothing to do with 9/11.
Additionally, Post reporter Isabel Vincent is said to have been told by the foundation's president before the article ran that, "Pras is a good friend of the organization and supports our cause but is not a board member.”
According to the complaint, the newspaper's reporters made no effort to follow up on this to determine his role with the foundation, and instead tarnished his reputation by connecting him to a charity that supposedly bounced a check and committed other alleged misdeeds.
"The drafting, publishing and dissemination of the Article was accomplished with a reckless disregard for the truth," states the complaint. "The reckless 'reporting' would be deemed as such had a high school student drafted the Article. However, the authors are seasoned, experienced 'investigative journalists' employed by one of the most widely circulated newspapers in the world."
Pras, who says in the complaint that he has dedicated much of his life to charity, aims to support such a high damage award with word that he is "currently in the process of attempting to effectuate major transactions that possess international importance."
Those transactions are said in the complaint to be worth millions of dollars to Pras, but now he's been fending off "countless phone calls" from "high-profile businesspeople with inquiries relating to the Article."
One of those transactions, coincidentally reported by the Post, involved being part of a $2.2 billion bid to purchase New York's Plaza Hotel, Dream Downtown and London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.
He says the deal is now at risk of falling apart.
A rep for the Post — owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp — declined comment. According to the complaint filed by Darren Heitner at Heitner Legal, the paper was served with a demand for retraction and apology on Oct. 5.