Today, February 6, 2010, I received the Court’s February 5, 2010 order. On February 4, 2010, I, Ronald Richards, and my colleague, Mark Goldowitz of the Anti-Slapp Project appeared in court and argued against Cyrus John Nownejad who represented Joe Francis. The hearing was called a special motion to strike. The purpose of this type of hearing is to dismiss lawsuits that are designed to chill public participation. A SLAPP motion was filed to dismiss the 4th, 5th, ,and 6th causes of action for slander, libel, and false light. The motion was filed on the grounds that statements made to TMZ by Ms. Nicole were made in a public forum in connection with a matter of public interest.
Franncis tried to bully Ms. Nicole by suing her for her statements after he brutally attacked her. Even though he may not have committed all of the acts Ms. Nicole thought he did based upon what witness’s told her, he committed a lot of them. The Court ruled that Joe Francis is a public figure and that her statements contribute to the public discussion on his treatment of young women.
Once the someone is a public figure in order for them to be able to file a lawsuit for defamation, they have to prove that the speaker said the statements with knowledge they were false or there with a reckless disregard for the truth.
The Court found that the evidence submitted by Joe Francis’s legal team FAILED to meet that burden and ordered the case dismissed. The Court ordered attorney fees which will be close to $80,000.00. A copy of the opinion and the order is here: nicoleslapporder_release001
It is great to work with great lawyers to defeat Joe Francis and save victims of his physical attacks as well as preserve one’s right to free speech.