Marlon Wayans Wins Dismissal of Actor’s Lawsuit Over ‘Cleveland Brown’ Tweet

Marlon Wayans
Lester Cohen/WireImage

A Los Angeles judge has dismissed a movie extra’s claims that he was subjected to harassment and discrimination by Marlon Wayans, in a case that centered on a tweet in which Wayans compared the actor to the “Family Guy” character Cleveland Brown.

In the tweet from Sept. 4, 2013, Wayans posted a picture of the “Family Guy” character along with a photo of Pierre Daniel, who was appearing in “Haunted House 2.” Wayans wrote, “Tell me this nigga don’t look like… THIS NIGGA!!! Ol cleveland Brown ass lookin @ahhmovie 2 @whatthefunny I’m hurtin!”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rafael Ongkeko dismissed Daniel’s claims, writing that the actor “has not shown that the various statements and actions attributed to Wayans unreasonably interfered with his work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”

Noting that both Wayans and Daniel are African-Americans, Ongkeko wrote that Wayans’ statements were protected forms of speech in the creation of a film project. Daniel complained not just about the Twitter posts, but about what he maintained was ridicule by Wayans during breaks and about how the comic referred to him as “Cleveland Brown.” He claimed that Wayans and the production company making the movie declined to offer him other employment after he complained.

Ongkeko, however, wrote that the “creation of the Cleveland character through plaintiff, and all positive or negative statements and conduct that may arguably come with it, was part of improvisational humor, both on and off camera that both advanced and assisted the exercise of free speech.”

Although Daniel also sued over misappropriation of likeness, Ongkeko wrote that a waiver that Daniel signed was broad enough to include Wayans’ right to photograph him and include it in the tweet.

“I am grateful that the judge upheld our constitutional rights of free speech,” Wayans said in a statement. “It’s the First Amendment and probably the most important for a comedian. This is also a stride toward protecting public figures from often bogus claims and lawsuits. I am grateful. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m gonna go watch reruns of ‘The Cleveland Show.’”

Wayans was represented by William Briggs and Celeste Brecht of Venable.

Adam Reisner, representing Daniel, did not immediately return a request for comment.

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  1. maryugorji says:

    Some law suits r just for money..I believe in freedom of speech..anytime u r u in the public eye anything could b said to attack your character..that’s not a good reason to sue..especiallycomedian they r always saying things about others…u have to b able to take c criticizing anytime u r in the public eye..this is just another excuse to sue…

  2. Bob Kennedy says:

    seems like bullying to me. He’s just hiding behind free speech and his celebrity status to give this low-wage worker a hard time.

  3. Mal says:

    So, if you’re black, it’s ok to use the ‘N’ word to describe another black person and that’s not offensive (well, the Plaintiff doesn’t mention he was offended by that)? It’s all so tiring knowing how to be PC these days.

    • Curtis Thomas says:

      He didnt use the “n” word, he used nigga, which amongst that subculture amounts to “dude” or “person”. There’s no reason TO be offended by that. It gets tiring explaining that to people that act like they didn’t know there was a difference when its obvious there is…

      • Mal says:

        It’s not obvious at all. It is still pronounced the same way. Nigger is supposed to be one of the most highly offensive words to black people yet you’re saying people can use the exact same word in a neutral term but, as long as it’s spelled differently, that’s ok? Sorry, but I’m pretty sure if a white guy used ‘nigga’ when referring to a black guy, there would be cries of rampant racism. What you’re saying is the term isn’t racist then as you can’t pronounce the two differently. Interesting, dude.

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