John Travolta has beat a defamation lawsuit brought by the author of a book that accused Travolta of frequenting gay bath houses and sexually harassing male masseuses.
Given the facts, you may have expected Travolta to have been the plaintiff in the defamation action. However, the author of You'll Never Spa in This Town Again, Robert Randolph, says that Travolta and his lawyer, Marty Singer, hurt his reputation when they responded to the book by claiming that Randolph suffered from mental problems and that the book was packed with lies, reports TMZ.
A judge dismissed the lawsuit citing that Travolta and his lawyer were simply exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech, CNN reports.
In a defamation action, the person harmed can generally prevail in a lawsuit if he can show that a false statement was negligently made, that it was communicated to others, and that the person suffered actual harm.
In a typical defamation lawsuit, Randolph may have been able to prevail against Travolta if the statements made were actually false and Randolph had suffered damages.
However, there are also a few defenses to a defamation claim. In other words, there are situations in which a person can make a defamatory statement and yet not be liable for it. Travolta and his lawyer's statements just happened to fall into one of these categories.
Situations in which someone can make a defamatory statement without penalty include, but are not limited to:
- Statements made between spouses,
- Statements you are legally required to make, and
- Statements made in a judicial proceeding.
In John Travolta's case, there was a legal dispute between Travolta and the two male masseuses he allegedly harassed. The judge found that the alleged defamatory statement -- a letter by Travolta's lawyer that was leaked to the press -- was protected because it was made "in good faith and in serious consideration of litigation," according to The Hollywod Reporter.
So regardless of whether the statement was true or not, Travolta and his lawyer could not have been found liable.
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