James Woods. Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.
Summary: A Los Angeles judge has ruled that James Woods can proceed with his defamation lawsuit against an anonymous Twitter hater.
Beware, internet trolls. Actor James Woods may change the way people post mean comments online.
This week, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mel Recana allowed Woods’ defamation complaint against “John Doe” to move forward, The Hollywood Reporter states. Last July, the actor sued Twitter user “Abe List” because Abe referred to Woods as a “cocaine addict.” While the true identity of Abe is unknown, his profile says he is a Harvard-educated partner at a private equity firm.
Woods sued for $10 million to send a message.
“AL, and anyone else using social media to propagate lies and do harm, should take note. They are not impervious to the law,” Woods said.
The conservative actor uses his Twitter to comment negatively on topics such as the Clintons and Barack Obama.
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) February 8, 2016
The World According to the #Zipster… pic.twitter.com/yvOGdmB0fm
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) February 5, 2016
Woods’ political outspokenness has brought him some ire online. After one of his tweets, Abe responded by saying “cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting.”
In his lawsuit, Woods says that Abe’s Tweet was seen by thousands and that the statement was an attempt to damage Woods’ reputation.
Abe reacted to Woods’ lawsuit by asking to stop any immediate discovery and motioning to strike based upon protecting his First Amendment rights. The defendant said that his tweet was a protected political insult and within the realm of Twitter’s hyperbolic political culture. The Hollywood Reporter writes that essentially, “the statement at issue was said not to be a provable fact.”
Twitter agreed with Abe. One of its attorneys said that Abe’s statement seemed to be more opinion rather than fact.
“Attempts to unmask anonymous online speakers in the absence of a prima facie defamation claim are improper and would chill the First Amendment rights of speakers who use Twitter’s platform to express their thoughts and ideas instantly and publicly, without barriers,” Twitter’s attorney said.
A hearing was held on February 2, and Judge Recena ruled tentatively that he would dismiss the case. However, he shocked many when he reversed his decision and allowed the case to move forward.
“Applying the totality of circumstances test, and examining the plain language of the Tweet, it is clear that any reader of the AL False Statement could and indeed must view it as a statement of fact,” Judge Recena wrote.
With discovery, the identiy of Abe will be revealed as well as his state of mind when he posted the tweet. Woods will need to show that Abe knowingly disregarded the truth, and Woods will probably have to show that there is no truth in the cocaine user allegation.
Woods is represented by Michael Weinsten at Lavely & Singer.
UPDATED 2/11/16 AT 4:50 PM
The defendant is represented by attorney Lisa Bloom. On Thursday, Bloom filed an appeal on behalf of her client, John Doe.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter