Celebrities often have to deal with false reports about their personal and professional lives. It’s a known hazard of the job and each celebrity deals with it in their own way.
It’s rare that a celebrity will go so far as to file a defamation lawsuit against someone for making false statements because they’re very difficult to prove. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants us the right to free speech and courts have constantly had to balance that right with the right of individuals to protect their careers and reputations in the event someone makes defamatory statements about them.
One of the ways the courts strikes this balance is by requiring public figures to bear a higher burden of proof when filing defamation lawsuits. The law is based on the idea that free and open discussion of public figures is in the best interests of the public, and should therefore be encouraged. As a result, the law requires public figures to be able to prove the person or entity knew the statements were false at the time they were made, and that the defamatory statements had a significant negative impact on their career.
Sean Penn has been accused of being a wife beater for almost three decades – ever since his rocky marriage to Madonna in the 1980s. Rumor has it he hit her with a baseball bat, but in October 2015, Madonna signed a statement that all such allegations were false.
But once the rumor mill gets going, it’s almost impossible to bring it to a stop. Lee Daniels, the director and producer, recently mentioned Penn in passing to The Hollywood Reporter. Referring to charges against Terrence Howard for hitting his wife in 2001 as well as battles in 2015 with another former wife over the terms of their divorce, Daniels allegedly remarked that Howard hadn’t done anything different from Marlon Brando or Sean Penn. The comment was meant to point out what Daniels perceived to be race-based criticism of the star of his show “Empire”, but it resulted in Penn filing a defamation lawsuit against Daniels.
Daniels is hoping the lawsuit will be dismissed from court, and given the flimsy nature of Penn’s claims, that seems like a possibility. Court documents filed on behalf of Daniels state that his comments never accused Penn of ongoing violence against women. Instead, he claims that he merely stated an opinion, and as such, his comment is according to his lawyers not subject to the standards of defamation.
The documents further argued that any comment Daniels made about Penn’s alleged wife beating could hardly do any more to damage his reputation than the past decades of media coverage has already rendered. To support this claim, Daniels’s legal team filed court documents that showed that searching the phrase “Sean Penn and domestic violence” produces hundreds of thousands of results on Google.
Penn is making a statement to the world that he is innocent of the claims of beating his ex wife and that he is serious about defending his reputation.
Our Chicago libel and slander lawyers concentrate in this area of the law. We have defended or prosecuted a number of defamation and libel cases, including cases representing a consumer sued by a large luxury used car dealer in federal court for hundreds of negative internet reviews and videos which resulted in substantial media coverage of the suit; one of Loyola University’s largest contributors when the head basketball coach sued him for libel after he was fired; and a lawyer who was falsely accused of committing fraud with the false allegation published to the Dean of the University of Illinois School of Law, where the lawyer attended law school and the President of the University of Illinois. One of our partners also participated in representing a high profile athlete against a well-known radio shock jock.
Our Chicago defamation attorneys defend individuals’ First Amendment and free speech rights to post on Facebook, Yelp and other websites information that criticizes businesses and addresses matters of public concern. Our Chicago Cybersquatting attorneys also represent and prosecute claims on behalf of businesses throughout the Chicago area including in Lombard and Des Plaines, who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and offline media. We have successfully represented businesses who have been the victim of competitors setting up false rating sites and pretend consumer rating sites that are simply forums to falsely bash or business clients. We have also represented and defended consumers First Amendment and free speech rights to criticize businesses who are guilty of consumer fraud and false advertising.
Super Lawyers named Chicago and Oak Brook business trial attorney Peter Lubin a Super Lawyer in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Chicago business trial lawyers have over a quarter of a century of experience in litigating complex class action, consumer rights, and business and commercial litigation disputes. We handle emergency business lawsuits involving injunctions, and TROS, defamation, libel, and covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud or defamatory attacks on their business and reputations.
Lubin Austermuehle’s Streamwood and Batavia defamation and slander lawyers have more than two and half decades of experience helping business clients unravel the complexities of Illinois and out-of-state business laws. Our Chicago business, commercial, class-action and consumer litigation lawyers represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners and shareholders as well as lawsuits between businesses and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. From offices in Oak Brook, near Lake In The Hills and Algonquin, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.
If you are the victim of a defamatory attack on your business or a consumer who has been sued to stop you from posting criticism of a business online at Yelp or anywhere else, contact one of our Oak Brook and Chicago defamation lawyers for a free consultation at 630-333-0333 or online by filling out our contact us form.