Anna Nicole Smith: Friend sues an author for defamation
A buzz is on that the companion of late Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith plans to sue an author for defamation but not over gay sex claims. The reason is that homosexuality is no longer being viewed as contemptible. A U.S. judge said this on Wednesday.
Howard K. Stern is suing Rita Cosby and the Hachette Book Group over Cosby's bestseller "Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death."
Stern is the former lawyer and boyfriend of Smith, the Playboy playmate and Guess jeans model who died in the year 2007 from an accidental prescription drug overdose.
Stern claimed that the book, which was published almost 6 months after the death of Anna Nicole Smith, contained nineteen libelous statements, including that he had engaged in oral sex at a Los Angeles party with Larry Birkhead, the father of Smith's child, and that Smith had later called Stern gay.
U.S. District Judge Denny Chin ruled that the defamation case could proceed on 11 of the statements.
Chin dismissed claims of Stern that statements implying that he was homosexual were defamatory, though he acknowledged that gays and lesbians still suffered prejudice.
The judge said, "I respectfully disagree that the existence of this continued prejudice leads to the conclusion that there is a widespread view of gays and lesbians as contemptible and disgraceful."
Chin ruled out that Hachette could not be sued since it had no reason to doubt the truth of the book. However he noted that Cosby, who is also a television reporter, had to answer to all the claims that she knew some of her sources were not truthful.
According to the judge, "Cosby's actions are extremely troubling, and suggest that she was attempting to obstruct justice by tampering with witnesses”.
The ruling said that Hachette gave Cosby an advance of $405,000 plus royalties for the instant bestseller.
A lawyer for Cosby, Elizabeth McNamara, said that she was pleased that the case had been narrowed down.
She said, "As to the remaining statements, we are fully confident that a jury will dismiss them as well once it hears all the evidence surrounding Howard K. Stern's life with Anna Nicole Smith,"
Stern's lawyer, Lin Wood, called the decision to be a real victory.
In a statement Wood said, "Defamation cases brought by public figures, such as Mr. Stern, only go to a jury in the most egregious of cases, and Judge Chin has found the case against Cosby to be one of those cases”.
In a separate case, forty year old Stern and two doctors face an October hearing in Los Angeles on charges that they were illegally supplying Smith with prescription drugs for years.