Jan 16, 2014

First U.S. Twitter Libel Trial Begins

Attorney Rhonda J. Holmes' libel lawsuit against singer Courtney Love began yesterday (Jan. 15) in California Superior Court in Los Angeles.  It is the first defamation trial in an American court based on statements posted on Twitter.

I've been following this case for a while. In 2010, Love hired and then fired Holmes to handle matters related to the estate of Love's husband, singer Kurt Cobain. When Love tried to rehire Homes, the laywer declined, leading Love to tweet, "I was fucking devestated when Rhonda J. Holmes esq. of san diego was purchased off @FairNewsSpears maybe you can get a quote" [sic].

According to news reports, the parties had agreed to a $600,000 settlement, but Love balked at issuing a retraction. Love settled a prior suit brought against her by fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir over other Twitter postings for $430,000 plus interest. Another "twibel" case brought by a NBA referee against a sportswriter was also settled.

As the first American twibel case, Gordon & Holmes v. Love may set a standard for libel via tweet, and perhaps other forms of social media as well.


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