6:12am PT by Eriq Gardner
Richard Simmons Drops Appeal Over National Enquirer Sex-Change Story
Richard Simmons has come to an agreement with American Media, the parent company of National Enquirer and Radar Online, and will no longer be looking to revive on appeal his defamation case over a series of articles that suggested he was transitioning from male to female.
The fitness guru filed his lawsuit in May 2017 and characterized the false tale of a "shocking sex surgery" as "cruel and malicious." He further alleged that he had been stalked and that the source for the stories in National Enquirer had recanted.
Three months later, a judge took up the defendant's anti-SLAPP motion and ruled that Simmons couldn't prevail on his claims that a sex change damaged his reputation or put him in a false light.
Being transgender may subject a person to hatred, contempt or ridicule from a portion of the population, but, the judge wrote, "the court will not validate those prejudices by legally recognizing them."
On appeal, the case gathered interest from media groups arguing in an amicus brief that being falsely identified as transgender was akin to allegations of communism, racial misidentification or homosexuality — and that misidentification of such immutable characteristics should not be defamatory per se.
Pursuant to a stipulation from the parties, the appeal has now been dismissed.
It's possible that American Media agreed to forgo recovering the $130K in legal costs it was entitled to after being the victor on an anti-SLAPP motion, but both sides said they couldn't comment — a sign that whatever the terms of the deal, confidentiality was an aspect.
Meanwhile, Simmons continues to pursue private investigator Scott Brian Mathews for planting a tracking device on the vehicle of his caretaker. A second lawsuit alleged that Mathews was hired by In Touch Weekly to track Simmons' movements. Mathews was subsequently charged criminally.