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Sean Penn Reaches Settlement With Lee Daniels in Defamation Case

Lee Daniels Sean Penn Lawsuit
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Sean Penn and Lee Daniels announced a settlement of Penn’s defamation lawsuit against the director over comments that Daniels made in a magazine interview.

In a joint statement, Daniels issued a letter of apology, along with a donation to one of Penn’s signature causes, the J/P Haitian Relief Organization.

“I am so sorry that I have hurt you, Sean, and I apologize and retract my reckless statements about you. How thoughtless of me. You are someone I consider a friend, a brilliant actor and true Hollywood legend and humanitarian.”

Penn filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Daniels last year over a comment the filmmaker made to the Hollywood Reporter, comparing legal troubles faced by “Empire” star Terrence Howard to those of Penn and other actors.

Penn alleged that he’d been falsely accused by Daniels of hitting women. In December, Penn’s ex-wife Madonna issued a statement that allegations that Penn abused her are “completely outrageous, malicious, reckless and false.” Her statement was included in Penn’s filings.

Daniels’ attorneys had sought a dismissal, arguing that the filmmaker’s comments were protected speech.

In his letter, Daniels added, “I too have been the subject of false attacks by others, like those made here. My most important role is as a father, and it is important to me that my children learn that it is wrong to reference gossip as fact, as I did here. That can be very damaging and hurtful.

“Domestic violence is a very serious issue. My comments were cavalier; it was not my intention to diminish the severity of the issue, but rather to express a view regarding the disparate treatment of men of color in our national conversation. I apologize again for the distress that this has caused you and your family. My very best, Lee Daniels.”

In a statement, Penn said, “I accept Lee’s heartfelt apology and appreciate the sincerity with which it was delivered. I also accept and appreciate his generous donation to J/P HRO, which will have a transformative effect on the lives of those we serve in Haiti.”

Penn was represented by Mathew Rosengart of Greenberg Traurig in Los Angeles, and Daniels by James Sammataro of the Miami offices of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP.

Both sides had no additional comment.