Entertainer Michael Jackson’s $100 million lawsuit against former “Hard Copy” reporter Diane Dimond, the show’s parent Paramount Pictures, and KABC Radio was dismissed by an L.A. Superior Court judge Friday. The singer’s lawsuit against another defendant, freelance writer Victor Gutierrez, will go forward. A trial start date will be set on June 2.
The case was being closely followed by attorneys for celebrities, as a ruling in favor of Jackson could have resulted in the lowering of the commonly used threshold for determining liability when false stories about public figures are published. Typically, celebs must prove that execs at the shows or newspapers either knew their stories were false or were reckless or malicious when they were reported in order to get a favorable verdict.
Jackson filed the $100 million lawsuit a week after Dimond appeared on KABC morning show Ken and Barkley on Jan. 9 and discussed a segment that would appear on that evening’s “Hard Copy,” in which Gutierrez would claim to have seen a videotape depicting Jackson having sex with a minor.
It was also alleged that the L.A. District Attorney’s office had reopened its investigation into child molestation allegations brought against the singer.
“We’ve already proven that the story about the tape was false, and Gutierrez is still on the hook,” Zia Modabber, Jackson’s attorney, told Daily Variety. “Although I haven’t spoken with my client yet, I expect that we will appeal the judge’s ruling, because (the acts of the defendant’s) really did cross the line.”
Judge Reginald Dunn issued his seven-page ruling the day after attorneys for both sides, excluding Gutierrez, argued during a summary judgment hearing.
Such a hearing is held to determine whether the plaintiff has a likelihood of prevailing on its claims at trial based on what has been discovered so far during the litigation.
Patricia Glaser, attorney for Par, said she was pleased with the ruling.