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Focused on Protecting Businesses and Representing the Injured

Katie Holmes’ Lawsuit Against Star Magazine: Defamation of a Public Figure

Actress Katie Holmes recently filed a libel lawsuit for damages of $50 million against American Media Inc., owner of Star Magazine. The complaint alleges that the tabloid printed “vicious lies” and harmful statements intended to lead readers to believe that Katie is a drug addict. The cover of the magazine’s January edition displays an unflattering photo of the actress along with the headline: “ADDICTION NIGHTMARE – Katie DRUG SHOCKER!” The articles contained in the publication however do not support the headline, according to Holmes’ legal team. Discussed instead is the actresses use of an endorphin releasing device.

Libel is a form of defamation involving printed or written materials. A successful libel cause of action requires proof of a false statement resulting in damage to the claimant’s reputation. The available remedies include monetary relief, like that sought by Holmes, or a court ordered retraction by the publisher. In Florida, the defendant can be ordered to retract a false statement if it appears to have been was published in good faith as an honest mistake. In the event of a retraction, a defendant’s liability for money damages may be reduced

When a public official or public figure sues for libel, the claimant must also prove that the publisher acted with actual malice or a knowing or reckless disregard for the truth.

Despite the initial demand letter from Holmes’ attorney requesting a retraction and a multimillion dollar federal lawsuit, AMI has stood its ground, arguing that the messages published in the January issue of Star are not false. The tabloid article involves endorphins, which “can be a natural drug.” AMI also contends that it is “not defamatory to state that a person is addicted the ‘feeling of a natural high.’” The outcome of this legal battle in the making should be interesting, as each side appears to have valid points.

Has your reputation been harmed by another person’s false statement?  Contact a civil litigation attorney today.

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