Talent manager Stephen Hanks, who received instant fame in September, 2011, for heckling Bristol Palin at a bar in Los Angeles, filed a lawsuit for defamation on Wednesday against Bristol Palin and cable channel Lifetime. Hanks, who had heckled Bristol Palin and insulted her conservative politician mother in the incident, claims he did not give the makers of Bristol Palin’s upcoming reality TV show “Life’s a Tripp,” the permission to have him filmed.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. federal court in Los Angeles. Though the amount of damages remained unspecified, the lawyer of Hanks told Reuters that the plaintiff was seeking more than $75,000. Representatives of the defendants did not respond with comments.
Bristol Palin rose to fame because of her teen pregnancy while her mother was running for U.S. vice president in 2008 from the Republican camp. She had just dismounted a mechanical bull in the bar, when Hanks approached her and shouted that her mother was “a whore” and she was “evil.” The video of the incident went viral on the internet. Palin confronted Hanks and asked if he was gay and got into a quarrel. Later, Bristol told the media that the incident was one of the reasons why she left California and returned to Alaska.
Hanks claims that this was untrue and that Palin had already bought her new house in Alaska in July 2011, and publicly blaming their encounter for her reason to leave Los Angeles tantamount to defamation. Hanks further submitted in the lawsuit that he had suffered severe emotional distress and invasion of privacy over Palin’s questions about his sexuality, and by use of coverage of the incident in the TV reality show. The lawsuit states, “Bristol Palin’s conduct was outrageous.”
The lawsuit further adds, “Bristol Palin first accused Plaintiff off ‘being a homosexual’ in a degrading manner in front of others … she then in a magazine article blamed Plaintiff for her decision to leave Los Angeles for Alaska even though she had purchased her home in Alaska … more than two months before the encounter.”
Hanks’s lawyer, Michael Gulden said that Hanks had tried to solve the matter outside the courts with Lifetime and its parent company without success. Gulden told the media, “He has communicated with A&E regarding use of the footage, and they were non-responsive. He felt (filing the lawsuit) was all he could do to protect his rights.” A&E Television Networks is the parent company of Lifetime, and is in its turn owned by NBC Universal, Disney-ABC Television, and the Hearst Corporation.