Courtney Love, former Hole lead singer and part-time celebrity train wreck, has been sued for using the social networking tool Twitter to make a number of allegedly-defamatory rants about Los Angeles clothing designer Dawn Simorangkir.
So, what did the former Mrs. Kurt Cobain have to tweet? Mostly foul-mouthed diatribes of the 140-character-or-less variety, accusing Simorangkir of being a thief and drug dealer. And, according to Reuters, Love "allegedly wrote grammatically challenged comments like 'oi vey don't f--- with my wardrobe or you will end up in a circle of corched eaeth hunted til your dead'."
And the lawsuit itself -- filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on March 26th and including claims for libel, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotion distress -- gets pretty flowery in its accusations against Love. Reuters offers the following excerpt from the complaint: "Whether caused by a drug induced psychosis, a warped understanding of reality, or the belief that her money and fame allow her to disregard the law, Love has embarked (o)n what is nothing short of an obsessive and delusional crusade to terrorize and destroy Simorangkir, Simorangkir's reputation and her livelihood."
Also last week, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined 25,000 by the NBA for tweeting his two cents about what he saw as suspect officiating in a recent Mavs game, the L.A. Times is reporting.
So all this high-profile hot water over Twitter rants may have you wondering what the law has to say on defamation, a civil injury (or "tort") claim that involves damage to a person's reputation.
Different types of defamation include libel -- which means that the defamation is written, or in this case tweeted -- and slander, when it is merely spoken. A person who files a lawsuit for defamation must usually prove that the statement in question was 1) published in an informal sense, meaning heard or seen by others, 2) false (and something more than mere opinion) and 3) injurious to the subject's reputation. But there are defenses to a defamation lawsuit, including proof that the statement in question is in fact true. Learn more about Defamation, Libel, and Slander.
- Reuters: Courtney Love Sued for Twitter Defamation
- L.A. Times: Twitter Trouble: Mark Cuban Fined, Courtney Love Sued -- Over Tweets
- Can I Say That? Defamation Law Made Simple (FindLaw)
- Defenses to Libel and Slander (FindLaw)
- The Law of Defamation, Libel, and Slander (FindLaw)
- What Does a Person Have to Prove to Win a Slander or Libel Claim? (provided by Atwater & Herren, Attorneys at Law, LLC)
- Can I Get Fired for Posting on Twitter or Facebook? (FindLaw's Common Law Blog)