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Judge Orders Richard Simmons to Pay $130K to Tabloids
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Richard Simmons. Photo courtesy of Us Weekly.

Summary: A judge told Richard Simmons on Friday that he must pay the legal fees of the tabloids he sued for defamation. 

Richard Simmons is being penalized for suing the National Enquirer and Radar Online. According to Fox News, a Los Angeles judge ordered the flamboyant fitness guru to pay the tabloids $130,000 after losing his defamation case against them last year.

  
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Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Keosian handed down the decision on Friday. He said that Simmons owed the publication’s publisher attorneys fees of up to $130,000. The defendants originally sought $220,000 in January.

Simmons’ order came from a defamation lawsuit he had filed last year against the National Enquirer and Radar Online. The publications had released a series of reports that Simmons had disappeared from the public eye because he was transitioning into a woman. Simmons said that this was an attack on his character, and he sued.

In the pieces, the National Enquirer and Radar claimed that Simmons had been missing for months because he was getting surgery and that he had told friends to call him “Fiona.”

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In response to the suit, American Media, which owns the tabloids, filed an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss Simmons’ complaint, and it said that the publications were protected by the First Amendment and that statements that someone is transgender are not harmful to someone’s reputation and therefore not defamation.

In September, Judge Keosian ruled against Simmons, stating that being called transgender was not defamatory. The case was dismissed on September 1, 2017.



“[A]lthough it is true that Simmons would not need to introduce any evidence of reputational damage to proceed in a defamation cause of action seeking only the emotional damages caused by the allegedly defamatory statement, Simmons must be able to show, as a threshold matter, that the allegedly defamatory statement on its face was the type of statement that would ‘naturally tend’ to injure one’s reputation,” Keosian wrote.

“This court finds that because courts have long held that a misidentification of certain immutable characteristics do not naturally tend to injure one’s reputation, even if there is a sizeable portion of the population who hold prejudices against those characteristics, misidentification of a person as transgender is not actionable defamation absent special damages,” Keosian continued.

In Simmons’ lawsuit, his lawyer argued that as a public figure Simmons had a right to not be falsely portrayed. The famed fitness star plans to appeal, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Simmons is represented by attorney Rodney Smolla.

What do you think of Simmons’ case? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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