A federal judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss a lawsuit from a Colorado DJ who claims he was wrongfully accused of grabbing Taylor Swift inappropriately.
U.S. District Court Judge William Martinez has scheduled a nine-day trial on the matter to begin on Aug. 7 in Colorado.
David Mueller sued Swift, her mother Andrea, and her manager Frank Bell, alleging that they exerted improper pressure on his employer, radio station KYGO, to fire him following a backstage meet-and-greet in 2013. Swift countersued Mueller for assault and battery.
In his ruling, Martinez found that the litigation centers on a factual question — whether Mueller did or did not touch Swift inappropriately on the buttocks — which is a matter for a jury to decide.
Swift testified at a deposition that she is certain that Mueller intentionally grabbed her:
“And so then we get in a photo formation with me in the middle, and that’s when right as the moment came for us to pose for the photo, he took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek, and no matter how much I scooted over it was still there,” she said. “It was not an accident, it was completely intentional, and I have never been so sure of anything in my life.”
Mueller has adamantly denied the allegation since it was first made.
According to court documents, the day after the alleged incident took place, Bell called Robert Call, a vice president at KYGO, and related what had happened.
“He was disappointed, Taylor’s family was upset, and they were looking to us to do the right thing,” Call wrote in his notes of the conversation. “The relationship with KYGO is important and unless we act, could be gravely impacted, and that he had assured all of the Taylor team that I would handle it appropriately.”
Bell testified that he placed the call after Andrea Swift, Taylor’s mother, told him that she wanted Mueller to “not be in radio anymore, to be fired.”
Swift’s attorneys have argued that KYGO made an independent decision to fire Mueller, and that she and her team should therefore not be held liable. Martinez rejected that argument, finding that a reasonable jury could conclude that Swift’s team exerted sufficient pressure on the station to influence its decision.
“To be clear, the Court views this as a close question,” Martinez wrote. “There would appear to be nothing improper about Swift — or any other person — making an honest report to an entity with which she does business that one of its employees assaulted or harassed her. Indeed, in the undersigned’s view, the policy of the law should encourage the reporting of actual assaults, not attach liability to it.”
However, in denying Swift’s motion for summary judgment, the judge noted that the true facts of the matter are up to a jury, not a judge, to decide. “Credibility determinations are likely central to resolving this case,” he wrote.
The judge previously ruled that all parties must attend the trial. The Hollywood Reporter first reported on the ruling.