Courtney Love. You may know her as the feisty muse that inspired hits from iconic bands ranging Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters, and the New Radicals… not to mention Nirvana. But here at Pfeiffer Law Corp, we know her as the first celebrity to inspire a defamation suit over Twitter #Revolutionary.
Tell me more.
Back in 2010, Love hired Rhonda Holmes, Esq. to be her attorney for a fraud case she was battling against a group managing Kurt Cobain’s estate. While Holmes was her attorney, she sent the following sentence into the Twitter-sphere: “I was fucking devestated [sic] when Rhonda J. Holmes Esq. of San Diego [sic] was bought off.” Allegedly Love meant for the tweet slide into Holmes’ DM (Direct Messages) and when Love realized that all the world could see it, she deleted it. Believe what you want. Twitter was still new, so maybe?
Anyway, Holmes was upset and sued Love for defamation because, well, her reputation was shot and she had not, in fact, been bought off.
As you’ll know from other Pfeiffer Law blog posts, in order to win a defamation suit, the plaintiff (the person bringing the suit) must prove that the defendant (the person being sued) knew that the statement that caused harm was untrue and intended to harm. Unless you’re Professor X and can read someone’s mind, it is super hard to win a defamation suit.
In the end, there simply was not enough evidence to prove that Love lied and meant to harm Holmes. Love testified that she thought what she said was true at the time.
Love initially won in January of 2014. In 2016, an appeals court upheld that decision. The moral of the story is that it’s best not to do business with a Love-d one.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.