LA Dodger’s pitcher Trevor Bauer’s defamation lawsuit against Deadspin tossed by federal judge
A U.S. District Judge ruled yesterday that the alleged defamatory statements surrounding sexual assault allegations against Bauer were “substantially true and absolutely privileged under New York law.”
Bauer had filed a lawsuit against the website Deadspin and its managing editor for reporting that the victim’s skull had been fractured during a sexual encounter – which Bauer claimed was false information.
The victim claimed in court documents that Bauer left her with black eyes, a head injury, a swollen, scratch-covered face, gums bruised black, a split lip, and bruises on her body. A doctor diagnosed the woman with significant head and facial trauma and symptoms of skull fracture.
Bauer had deployed what is sometimes referred to as “the rough sex defense”, which has historically been used by those accused of sexual assault to allege that an injury occurred as part of consensual sex.
When Deadspin reported on the case, Bauer sued them for defamation, claiming that they falsely stated he fractured the woman’s skull and that a skull fracture even occurred.
“Those symptoms were not merely ‘self-reported,’ but based on a physician’s initial examination and observation of [the woman],” Judge Crotty said. “This means that the true bridge between the contested statements — [Bauer] fractured [the woman’s] skull as diagnosed by an initial CT scan-and reality — [Bauer] caused [the woman] facial trauma that a doctor initially diagnosed as symptoms of a skull fracture — is small enough to render the ‘gist’ or ‘sting’ of the statements unchanged. Whether those injuries included a skull fracture or simply ‘significant head and facial trauma’ and bruising does not change the nature of the accusations, nor would it produce a different effect on the mind of the reader,” he added. – as reported by Law 360
Aurore DeCarlo leads C.A. Goldberg, PLLC’s Defamation Defense practice. She explained:
“As victims advocates, we welcome yesterday’s decision in the Trevor Bauer case against Deadspin. The judge dismissed Bauer’s defamation lawsuit against Deadspin based on the absolute privilege afforded by the fair reporting doctrine.
Deadspin rightly and responsibly reported on serious and alarming allegations of sexual and physical abuse against Bauer.
As a world renowned athlete with huge wealth and resources at his disposal, Bauer has repeatedly tried to silence his victim, as well as those that have shed further light on her harrowing experience.
Importantly this decision sends the message that even the most powerful among us cannot shut down valuable public discourse and truthful reporting on verifiable allegations of sexual abuse.”
As perhaps the busiest #MeToo defamation defense firm in the country, we see retaliatory defamation suits brought by predators that are designed to sway public opinion, discredit, humiliate and retraumatize victims. We have represented dozens of people who spoke out and were met with their abuser weaponizing defamation law again them. We also know that victims with something to say are getting savvier about how to discuss their abuse while protecting themselves from litigation. We’re getting more cases where survivors of assault and abuse come to us for legal advice before sharing their stories.
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- C.A. Goldberg, PLLC in the news – Defector: The Long, Complicated History Of Trevor Bauer’s “Rough Sex” Defense
- Defamation law and #MeToo
- An Intro To Defamation Defense And Anti-Slapp